Eight vultures die of poisoning in Golan, in ‘mortal blow’ to local population

Officials say the deaths cut species’ numbers in the area by half, amid painstaking conservation efforts

A poisoned vulture is treated after being poisoned in the Golan Heights, May 10, 2019 YouTube screenshot)
A poisoned vulture is treated after being poisoned in the Golan Heights, May 10, 2019 YouTube screenshot)

Eight griffon vultures were found dead in the Golan Heights Friday morning after being poisoned, and two more were being treated for poisoning, in an incident that was seen as devastating to the species in the region.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority said it was investigating the incident and “will take every measure to find those responsible for the poisoning and bring them to justice.”

Nature and Parks Authority head Shaul Goldstein called it “a mortal blow” to the vulture population.

The vultures had apparently eaten from the carcass of a cow that had been poisoned. A dead fox and two dead jackals were also found in the area.

Officials said the eight griffon vultures killed made up about half of the Golan’s scant population.

The carcasses of eight vultures found poisoned in the Golan Heights on May 10, 2019. (Nature and Parks Authority)

According to the Walla news site, repeated poisonings have devastated the local population, which 13 years ago numbered around 130.

They are mostly attributed to local cattle farmers taking illegal action to try and wipe out predators that threaten their herds.

Authorities said the death of the birds during the nesting period was particularly devastating, and could lead to the loss of eggs and hatchlings left without parents.

In recent years, the Nature and Parks Authority has made efforts to conserve and rebuild the local vulture population, including bringing in birds from Spain.

“This large-scale poisoning is a real blow,” the Authority’s Wildlife Hospital in Ramat Gan, which treated one of the poisoned vultures, said.

“The investment in every vulture chick from the moment of egg-laying at reproduction centers in zoos, through their nurturing and release into the wild demand huge efforts… we hope the injured vulture gets better quickly and is able to return to the wild.”

AFP contributed to this report.

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