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Breeding bearded vulture dies after colliding with cable in Vanoise – single partner continues to take care of the chick

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Collision with the energy infrastructure or the ski lifts has been identified as one important mortality cause for the bearded vulture in the Alps – over the last few years several bearded vultures died after colliding with cables. Hence, a major part of the LIFE GYPHELP project in which the VCF also participates is dedicated to mitigate this threat, through marking many kilometres of high voltage lines, ski lifts and other ski station infrastructure.

Unfortunately, we have to report one more mortality – one adult bearded vulture was found injured on the 10th April below a high voltage power line in the National Park Vanoise, right in the middle of the breeding territory of the Peisey Nancroix pair. The injured bird was immediately transferred to the wildlife rescue centre Tichodrome, but sadly it died the following night.

The first post-mortem suggest that the bird suffered from a severe trauma, but the toxicological and lead analysis are still ongoing to know if there were any driving factors to this apparent collision. The bird –  one of the breeding adults of the pair – was unringed, and genetic analysis will be made to identify the bird, including its sex.

Wild bearded vultures are in the middle of the breeding season – this is challenging work for the birds, as they need to protect the young bird, keep it warm and at the same time find food to feed the hungry chick. The pair from Peisey Nancroix had a young bearded vulture in the nest, about 1,5 months old, so the National Park Vanoise has started to provide additional food for the remaining breeding adult to reduce the effort of finding food – normally we do not need to use supplementary feeding in the Alps as both wild and reintroduced bearded vultures find enough food from wild ungulates.

The survival of this little bearded vulture depends very much on respect for the major sensitivity zone set up in the breeding valley. Thank you all for respecting this area of tranquillity and, above all, not to seek to observe the birds (too much frequentation of the site could be fatal to the young).

We hope to communicate some good news later in the season – in the meantime, we will continue to work to minimize the threat of cables to bearded vultures in the Alps and elsewhere.


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