Food for Carrion eaters

Support for the guardians of health

© Bruno Dittrich
Carcasses left lying are a rare find in Europe today. This affects bears and other wild animals badly. © Bruno Dittrich

Over the centuries many animal species which feed either solely or partially on carrion have been persecuted and in many parts of Europe wiped out. Among these are all the four vultures still found in Europe ( Bearded -, Griffon – Eurasian Black or Monk-  and Egyptian Vultures  a.k.a  the White Scavenger), various species of Falconiformes and also wolf and bear. Thanks to intensive programmes of re-introduction and protection the vultures in particular have been able to re-conquer some of their former territory.



A prime source of food was withdrawn

Nevertheless long-term survival of many carrion eaters is still endangered: with the disappearance of traditional nature-friendly methods of farming such as transhumance and because of  the way farms are being abandoned in mountain regions of Europe these “animal guardians of health” have long been suffering from the increasing lack of carcasses to be found.


The situation was greatly exacerbated with the appearance of the EU regulation 1774 which was passed following on the BSE crisis and came into force in 2002. Since the introduction of this regulation it has been forbidden even for farmers in the remotest mountain regions in Europe to leave carcasses lying in the open. In particular in Spain's mountain regions this led to problems for bears and vultures.

Working in a joint effort with Fapas, the Spanish Nature Conservation Society, and further partners, EuroNatur set about finding a way to reform the regulation so as to respect consumer protection but also give wild animals a chance.

What specific actions did EuroNatur and partners take ?

  • We created a scientific knowledge base: EuroNatur Partner Fapas examined the effects of the shortage of carcasses on the bear population in a case study. The study showed that in particular mother bears had to rely on carcasses when they woke from hibernation.
  • suggested alternatives to the status quo: On the basis of this case study EuroNatur produced a position paper. In this our foundation was able to show that minor changes to the regulation would improve the situation for the affected species appreciably.
  • and exerted pressure: EuroNatur and Fapas brought the case study and the position paper before the European Union to achieve improved legislation in the interests of species protection.

 


What have we been able to achieve so far?

 

  • EuroNatur and Fapas have been able to prove conclusively that carcasses of farm animals placed in traditional feeding stations in remote places represent no danger to the public.
  • The European Parliament took up the results of the case study and the concrete suggestions made by nature conservation organisations and largely took them over in its resolution on the new EU hygiene regulation on 24 April 2009. With the publication on 14th November in the Official Journal of the EU the revised version came into force.
  • In February 2011 the EU Commission issued a precise implementing provision which took account of all EuroNatur's demands. With the new regulation a foundation is laid which will enable extensive grazing systems to be more easily put into practice and in this way will secure the basic provision of food for carrion-eating animal species.


We still need to continue to ...

  • monitor the implementation: Now that the EU has revised the original hygiene regulation the responsible authorities  at national level have to implement the statutory provisions from Brussels. EuroNatur and Fapas will be keeping a close eye on the situation.
  • supplement the natural supply: staff of Fapas regularly place carcasses for carrion eaters such as the Griffon Vultures.
  • give support to model initiatives: EuroNatur is supporting model projects which use grazing systems such as transhumance. In doing this we are creating an important underlying structure that will enable wild animals including carrion eaters to find sufficient habitat and food in cultivated land.


Partner: FAPAS (Fondo para la Protección de los Animales Salvajes, Foundation for the protection of Wild Animals)

Sponsoring: Heidehof Foundation

 

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