back to article German vulture detective hits turbulence

German police in Lower Saxony hoping to train a vulture to seek out dead bodies are having issues with the bird's training. Sherlock is one of team of three turkey vultures whom police had hoped to turn into a flying CSI unit. The plan was that they'd be fitted with GPS trackers so police could follow him when he swooped into …


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  1. Elmer Phud


    There was a paper from an Austrailan Agricultural department (or something like that ) taht looked at what attracted corvids to food.

    It seems that the chemical smell they go for is in most rotting stuff and also in stinky cheese.

    I have conducted a couple of experiments aong thes elines with stilton rind - the local magpies arrive within ten minutes, even if I've not seen them for days. They then beging to squabble and fight over tiny bits of cheese rind.

    As Vultures are important for removing dead meat from the environment it's very likely they don't give a toss about human or other animal - it's gone off and therefore ripe enough to eat.

  2. Blofeld's Cat

    Committee of vultures


    I'll never be able to think of the "Catering Committee" in the same way again.

    1. Suburban Inmate

      I prefer "wake"

      Makes a strangely appropriate term for the people gathering to toast the dearly departed. Let's face it, who doesn't have the inheritance on their mind?

  3. Graham Bartlett

    Been to a bird sanctuary with an owl like that

    Can't remember exactly which, but we were there on holiday a few years ago. They've got a European eagle owl there called Chunky. Thing is, all his fellow hatchlings got wings, got feathers, started flapping and eventually took off as normal. But Chunky just never did, and decided to walk everywhere instead. In the wild he'd be easy pickings for a fox, but in the sanctuary he's just a novelty.

    The real stoy though is that they were trying to get him to fly, so they kept working until he'd do short hops up to a vantage point and then glide down, which is what owls do. Trouble is that this time he actually decided to flap and went much further than they expected, so they couldn't find him. He had a radio collar on, so they went out looking for him. Eventually they found this owl - under a tree, flat on its back, next to some strange-looking mushrooms that showed signs of having been pecked at...

    So they rang the vets and basically said "our owl is off his head on shrooms, what do we do?", and the vet said "f**ked if I know". After a day or so the owl woke up and was OK, so everything was fine. And the sanctuary then had the best story *ever* to tell their visitors.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Been to a bird sanctuary with an owl like that

      Tale of the week, GB. :-)

  4. Desk Jockey

    What bird brains!

    Have to laugh. It seems like such a clever idea, using birds to hunt down dead corpses rather than training dogs. There is the slight flaw that dogs actually have brains and can be trained! Seems like man's best friend has not been retired just yet! Not until the German police get a better bird anyway!

    1. Francis Boyle

      You obviously haven't seen

      the smart crow video.

      Now that's a true Sherlock.

      They're just using the wrong birds.

  5. b0llchit Silver badge

    El Reg options

    You, El Reg, might want to ponder your options. 1) you start feeling the pressure from the German police trained bird to take over your bran{d,ch}, or 2) invite the flying livestock and make a deal to share the corpses.

    Either way, there is no chance left for unspoiled 0xdeadbeef. Maybe the pub is the best alternative.

  6. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Sublime IntelAIgent Server Work

    "the state government might want to create an "international training center for search vultures."" ...,1518,770994,00.html

    Sounds like a special academy for agents with certain gifts.

    A little something for Offices of Cyber Security to Support with MIServices .... for the Bounty that IT Delivers with Additional Assured Benefits.

    It is only a small matter to write them into the script presenting a future scenario which replaces a depleted, barren landscape devoid of animal passion, with that which it needs and feeds to lead and seed.

    Then is the Past rendered a Memory and the Future AIMagic Helter Skelter Ride.

    I Kid U Not. :-) The Program is Launched and Fully Functional Live Operational.

  7. Mike Richards

    Release the police pelicans

    Personally I think the collective noun for vultures should be 'a gluttony'.

    1. frank ly


      the collective noun for pelicans should be a 'crossing'.


  8. Nick Pettefar

    You know what they say...

    Never go on with either children or animals. They never perform to plan.

    The police should have known better, I guess it was the politicians who egged them on.

  9. Graham Marsden

    A story from my grandfather...

    ... He spent some time in Africa when he was in the Forces and at one point was hospitalised.

    Outside the hospital was a row of trees which were eventually cut down because the patients found the site of large numbers of local vultures perched in them somewhat disconcerting...!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Airborne Surveillance

    Since it's been proved that scientists have been able to grow a human ear on the back of a mouse ( perhaps it's not so great a step to grow wings on a pig. They have a higher intelligence than corvids. Somehow, in view of the article's context, it would seem to be a natural development.

  11. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    As flying things performing in a group surely the collective known is

    a squadron of vultures.

    Although I do like the idea of a wake.

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