Vulture killing hunters caught in Hungary with the help of sniffer dogs

In a successful case against wildlife crime, prosecutors in Hungary brought charges against four hunters who killed a strictly protected cinereous vulture and four common buzzards. The perpetrators were caught thanks to the GPS tracker carried by the vulture, and also to the decisive help of poison and carcass detection canine unit of Birdlife Hungary.

Back in April 2021, a GPS tagged cinereous vulture was shot in Hungary, the third proven individual of the species in Hungary since 1932. The Bulgarian Green Balkans organization team, who were GPS-tracking the bird, alerted BirdLife Hungary when they noticed that something might have happened with the vulture. The dog unit of BirdLife Hungary and the rangers of the Hortobágy National Park Directorate found scattered feathers and blood traces, among other findings that also indicated that the vulture had been shot on site, so police were alerted immediately.

The route of the shot cinereous vulture (Source: Green Balkans). 

The police investigation was successfully concluded and the prosecution brought charges of nature destruction against the suspects, as several protected species and one strictly protected species were affected. The investigation revealed that, besides the vulture, at least four buzzards were trapped and killed near a pheasant and mallard farm. Among the four perpetrators, a hunter is charged with one crime, while the other defendants are charged with multiple crimes.

Unfortunately, birds of prey are often the victims of these kinds of wildlife crimes as a consequence of their bad reputation. Cinereous vultures feed on carrion, and their diet mainly consists of medium to large carcasses, therefore they can´t pose any threat for the small game species in the area where the incident happened”, says Dávid Sütő, Large Carnivore Project Manager at WWF Hungary. 

As part of the LIFE SWiPE project, WWF Hungary is collaborating with the poison and carcass detection dog (PCDD) unit of BirdLife Hungary to support the assessment of the large carnivore population in Hungary.

You can read the whole article on BirdLife’s Imperial Eagle LIFE project website (in English):