Four pairs of bearded vultures now occur in Savoie (French Alps), and all was set for them to raise one chick each – a record in the region. Bearded vultures went extinct in the Alps in 1913, but started to be reintroduced there in 1986, in a project co-managed by the VCF, and still on-going. As a result their population has been slowly increasing across the mountain chain, now totalling 30 pairs.
Unfortunately, a pair nesting near Peisey-Nancroix, in the Vanoise National Park, failed the breeding this year, abandoning a young (3-week) chick in the nest after three speedriders flew repeatedly nearby. The scene was observed by two birdwatchers, who have also managed to take several photographs – as a result the speedriders are now facing a judicial proceeding.
Bearded vultures are a protected species, and it is illegal to disturb their nesting. Further, the Vanoise National Park issues every year detailed recommendations about their nests, and the outdoor activities potentially impacting on them, widely distributed through the press, the park´s website and specialized channels. According to the Park rules, Speedriders and other outdoor practitioners should not enter a 700 m radius around bearded vulture nests.
Unfortunately this was ignored by these three speedriders – as a result one less bearded vulture will be flying this year in the Alps. The speedriders have pleaded guilty, and the court case is still on-going.