Posted by: soniahs | July 6, 2011

Attempt to use turkey vultures as flying police dogs fails

Apparently, German police have been attempting to train turkey vultures (imported from North America) to detect bodies while flying. The idea actually seems reasonable in principle- turkey vultures have excellent senses of smell, and could detect the scent of corpses from far away. They’re also closely related to hawks and falcons- two groups of birds that have been trained to be handled by people and use for hunting for centuries.

The problem here seems to be that the first bird the German police have been training is both lazy and shy. From a BBC report:

But according to Spiegel: “Sherlock’s success has been limited.

“While he can locate a stinking burial shroud, which the police gave the bird park to use for training purposes and which is clearly marked with a yellow plastic cup, Sherlock doesn’t approach the shroud by air.

“He prefers to travel by foot.”

Furthermore, the bird is yet to perform outside the familiar confines of the zoo.

“The bird is naturally anxious, and he would hide in the woods or bolt,” according to his trainer.

I don’t know if they’re going to try to train another vulture, but it sounds like they’re pretty disappointed by the first vulture’s failure. Oh well.

Story via Birdchick.

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