Woman Eaten by Vultures Stirs Protected Species Debate

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A woman hiking in the Pyrenees mountains in France who fell to her death is igniting a debate over a protected species of vulture.

According to an International Business Times report, a 52-year-old woman fell down a 300-meter cliff while walking with friends. Vultures immediately took to the body, reducing it to only clothes and bones in less than one hour.

The event has highlighted calls by some farmers in France to be able to kill the Griffon vulture, a protected species that has been turning to attacking livestock. Recent European Union laws have required dead animal carcasses, a staple of the vultures' diets, to be burnt to prevent the spread of mad cow disease. According to the IBT report, this policy has "critically" lowered the food available for the vultures.

Farmers are now making compensation claims for livestock killed or carried off by the birds. Hunters have also complained of the vultures stealing their kills. The birds, which can grow to have 9-foot wingspans and live over 40 years in captivity, are also reportedly spreading out further into Europe in search of food.

(Image courtesy Ingrid Taylar/Wikimedia Commons)

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