This year a new breeding pair has established itself in the Savoie region – the 5th pair in that region of the French Alps. Following the recolonisation of Savoie in 1999, with the establishment of a pair in Val d’Isere, breeding pairs of bearded vultures appeared in Termignon in 2001, Peisey-Nancroix in 2004 and Bessans in 2011. The latest pair established near Bourg-Saint-Maurice.
After extinction in the beginning of the 20th century, bearded vultures started to be reintroduced in the Alps in 1986, in a project coordinated by the VCF, and implemented by a number of partners in 4 countries across the mountain chain. First breeding happened in 1997, and the population has been since then steadily growing.
Last year there were at least 34 pairs, which produced a total of 29 clutches, from which 20 chicks fledged successfully: 8 in Switzerland, 6 in France, 5 in Italy and 1 in Austria. This is a new record, one more chick than had fledged in 2014.
The increase in the number of fledglings, the number of occupied territories (at least 2 new) and of clutches is a very positive sign of a healthy growing population. The productivity (number of chicks per mature pair) is just below 60%.
There are two main nuclei, one around the Mont Blanc in the west (France-Italy-Switzerland), and the other one in the Engadine-Stelvio area (Swiss-Italian border). The VCF is currently involved in a project (LIFE GYPHELP) that aims to reduce the mortality of bearded vultures in the French Alps, and facilitate the growth of the breeding population.
The return of the bearded vultures to the Alps – still continuing – is one of Europe´s greatest wildlife comebacks – something we can all be proud of!