According to reports by our partners at LPO (Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux), birds of prey and vultures in France keep getting illegally shot. Worryingly, the number of documented cases remains constant in recent years.
Poaching remains a threat to vultures in France
Poaching strikes again. The latest known victim of this serious wildlife crime is a Griffon Vulture in France at the Cévennes National Park. Following the discovery of a carcass, experts performed a necropsy and toxicological analysis on the Griffon Vulture, with the X-ray revealing that twenty lead shot pellets riddled its body.
Since 2013, LPO has recorded no less than 20 vultures, including reintroduced Bearded Vultures, shot just in the Grands Causses. In addition, on the smaller territory of the Cévennes National Park, 8 other vultures also experiences illegal shootings during the same period.
Other protected and fragile birds species also targeted
Vultures are not the only victims of poaching in France — perpetrators target other protected bird species, including Golden Eagles, Short-toed snake eagles, Peregrine falcons, Common buzzards and Eurasian eagle-owl.
Shockingly, a total of 70% of the 118 different species shot are non-hunting species! That is 1,120 birds, 75% of which are birds of prey. Common kestrels, Eurasian sparrowhawks, Common buzzards, Red kites and Griffon Vultures are the five raptor species that account for 49% of all admissions to rehabilitation centres. The number of birds found wounded or most often dead is only the tip of the iceberg since the chances of discovering shot animals is low, with less than 10% of cases identified.
These crimes usually go unpunished
The fact that protected bird species like vultures and birds of prey keep being persecuted is unacceptable! What’s makes the situation worse is that perpetrators who carry out these damaging actions go unpublished in most cases.
But, the criminal actions of a few cannot jeopardize the important work done to bring back vulture species to areas where they went extinct in Europe. It is urgent for hunting associations to work towards eradicating this criminal behaviour. Furthermore, police and the judiciary must properly investigate and prosecute these grave crimes to achieve some justice for wildlife. Experience from elsewhere like Spain suggests that heavy penalties and prison sentences are a powerful deterrent to mitigate this environmental crime.
As for the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) and our partners on the ground, we will continue to work and engage with all sectors of civil society (including hunters) to demonstrate that vultures are allies rather than a problem, deliver valuable ecosystem services, and are an added value to France’s and Europe’s ecosystems.