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GPS Tracking Turkey Vultures

Tracking Turkey Vultures With GPS – How Birds Are Helping Police With Investigative Work

Did you know that law enforcement agencies are now tracking turkey vultures to record their flights? But why? The answer is not what you might expect. They’re not just studying the birds’ behaviors. In fact, the tracking turkey vultures initiative is all about solving missing persons cases. That’s right, these natural scavengers, with their innate ability to find carrion, are aiding in uncovering clues in these distressing cases. But how? In this article, we will discuss this unprecedented convergence of nature and technology in criminal investigations.

GPS Tracking Turkey Vultures

Transforming Crime Investigations: The Turkey Vulture Initiative In Germany

Did you know law enforcement is now relying on turkey vultures to locate corpses in remote areas? German police have turned to these unlikely allies, tapping into their uncanny sense of smell which far outperforms that of sniffer dogs.

Meet Sherlock, the turkey vulture who’s leading this transformation. With his distinctive blood-red head, large beady eyes, and big curved beak, Sherlock may not be a conventional beauty. However, his potential value to law enforcement is immense.

Outfitted with a GPS tracking device, Sherlock is being trained to find corpses in remote areas. Policeman Rainer Herrmann claims that a nature program sparked this idea. He sees great potential in these birds covering a much larger area than sniffer dogs or humans, significantly saving time in searches for bodies.

Turkey vultures like Sherlock can detect the scent of decomposing flesh from a staggering 1,000 meters in the air. Their capabilities go beyond open spaces; they can find remains even in woodland or thick undergrowth. Moreover, unlike sniffer dogs who require regular breaks, Sherlock is tireless and capable of covering vast areas.

Tracking Turkey Vultures – Key Features Of The Initiative

  • Sherlock’s training is taking place at Walsrode, the world’s largest bird park, south of Hamburg.
  • His trainer, German Alonso, is acclimating Sherlock to the scent of dead human flesh.
  • The training involves locating meat pieces placed atop strips of cloth used to cover a corpse.
  • Sherlock has become a public figure, performing in daily shows if time allows.

Despite the promising start, Alonso admits there’s still a long way to go. The project’s full realization hinges on a trained squadron of vultures, with Sherlock at the helm. The scarcity of time, in young birds, particularly in captivity, poses a significant challenge.

GPS Tracking Turkey Vultures – Frequently Asked Questions

Can turkey vultures be tracked to locate dead animals?

Yes, turkey vultures can be tracked to locate dead animals. Equipped with a GPS transmitter, similar to those used in the USGS bird banding program, these birds’ movements are closely monitored. Their inherent ability to detect the scent of dead animals from miles away makes them incredibly useful in searches over vast and challenging terrains.

What is unique about the turkey vultures’ behavior that aids in investigations?

Turkey vultures have a highly developed sense of smell, allowing them to detect carrion even in dense undergrowth or woodlands. Unlike most birds, they rely heavily on their olfactory senses. This, along with their ability to cover large distances while soaring, makes them invaluable in investigations.

Are other birds also being used for similar purposes?

Yes, other birds are being considered for similar roles. Apart from turkey vultures, black vultures, barred owls, and even golden eagles have been tracked for research purposes. With advancements in satellite transmitters and the ongoing development of bird conservation efforts, the scope for using other bird species is widening.

Please visit Hawk Mountain Sanctuary for more information on bird conservation.

Matthew Henson
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