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

Eight vultures, two jackals and a fox were found dead Friday in the Golan Heights after eating poison spread illegally.

According to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, two more vultures fell sick from consuming the organic phosphorus and received medical treatment in the field and were then transferred to a wildlife animal hospital in Ramat Gan.

Most incidents of poisoning are connected to farmers who are struggling against predators like wolves or jackals, which attack cattle herds. Vultures converge on poisoned cattle carcasses, eat them and die from the poison that was meant for other predators.

Before today, there were about 20 vultures in the Golan Heights. Over the past two years, the Nature and Parks Authority brought vultures from Spain to Israel and released them into the wild, in hopes of replenishing the population. The reduction in the vulture population is mainly caused by poisoning with pesticides, which seems to be the case here. Other causes include lead poisoning from hunters’ bullets, and electrocution on power lines.

The repeated poisonings have devastated the local population, which 13 years ago numbered around 130.

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.