Vulture Attacks on Horses Reported in the Pyrenees

Allegedly lacking an adequate supply of carcasses, vultures in the Pyrenees mountains of France and Spain have been blamed for attacks on newborn foals and other livestock, according to several French news sources, including Le Nouvel Observateur.

With 33 recorded vulture attacks of live animals in the French Atlantic-Pyrenees region in 2008, where an observation system has been organized, the situation has reached a "preoccupying" level of concern, according to Le Nouvel Observateur's source, Didier Hervé, director of the Institution Patrimoniale du Haut-Béarn (IPHB, Patrimonial Institution of the Haut-Béarn region, France).

It has been speculated that the raptors have been driven to kill in recent years as their main food source has been reduced due to new disposal methods at area slaughterhouses.

Attacking pigs, cows, and horses, the vultures have frequently been seen targeting "animals in difficulty," such as those suffering from disease, females giving birth, and the newborn young, according to Ornithomedia.com, a Web site which supports bird zoology.

Vultures are carrion-eating scavengers which normally feed exclusively on the carcasses of dead animals. A protected species in France, an estimated 500 vulture couples reside in the Atlantic-Pyrenees, according to the IPHB.

About the Author

Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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