Bearded vultures in the French Pyrenees safer from disturbance from helicopter overflights

The Parc National des Pyrenees, conservation NGOs and the French electricity company EDF signed a new collaboration protocol that will minimize disturbance by helicopter flights to the breeding pairs of this rare vulture species in the department of the Haute-Pyrenees.

Human disturbance near the nests, from December to August, is still a significant threat for the species – including helicopter overflights. In the Pyrenees, this has been recognized as major cause of low reproductive success – 5 pairs of the 44 breeding on the French side of that mountain chain failed last year because of this. Military helicopters, mountain rescue teams and helicopters hired by the electricity utilities to verify the mountain dams often fly close to the nests, which may cause the breeding pair to abandon the posture.

Within the framework of the French national action plan for this species, led by the French government (DREAL Nouvelle-Aquitaine), a new protocol has now been signed between the League pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), the Parc National des Pyrenees, Nature Midi-Pyrenees and EDF. Under this protocol, the electricity company undertakes not to fly over the breeding areas occupied by bearded vultures during the verification of its mountain dams at Luz Pragnères, Arrens-Marsous and Campan.

This article was first published by the Vulture Conservation Foundation January 2018

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