In April 2015 a Swiss game warden called Toni Schmid found, with the help of his dog, the remains of a young bearded vulture in an avalanche in the Gasterntal in Switzerland. Unfortunately there were only some feathers and bones left, and no rings could not be detected. The Centre for Fish and Wildlife Health from the University of Berne in Switzerland examined the remains but could not make any conclusions about the cause of death. Bones were sent for analysis for lead level and muscle tissue was used to genotype the bird.
The result from the genetic analysis are now available. The bird could be identified as Angélo, an offspring from Hans and Mascha, the breeding pair at the Animal- and Landscapepark in Arth-Goldau in Switzerland. Hans and Mascha are at the moment raising their 13th chick which can be followed via an excellent webcam>>
Angélo was released in 2012 in the Parc Naturel Régional du Vercors. He spent the first few weeks around the Vercors, and then made a small excursion to to the West, and crossed the river Rhone (see map). In 2013 he could be observed quite a lot around Les Baronnies, where he frequented the local feeding station (see photo). Both Les Baronnies and Vercors are release sites in the ongoing LIFE GypConnect project which aims to connect the Pyrenean and Alpine bearded vulture population. Hence Angelo´s trip to the west is a good omen. He then flew to Switzerland where he stayedin the Bernese Oberland. The last GPS position was received on the 24 February 2015 and is from the same valley where Angélo was later found dead.
For the still small and vulnerable bearded vulture population in the Alps the loss of one individual is still significant. It is also extremely important to find the causes of mortality in order to minimize them.