A worrying post at the VCF website about the first bearded vulture in Spain having a veterinary drug that is used for euthanasia of farm and domestic animals in its system. It was actually killed by electric shock but the autopsy showed that the drug was probably already affecting it.
Bearded Vultures are obligate scavengers that do not hunt for prey and feed mainly on bones. Carrion of domestic animals available in the countryside is, thus, an essential food source for these vultures. By feeding on domestic animals, Bearded Vultures are exposed to veterinary drugs and NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) that can compromise their survival.
Barbiturate drugs, such as pentobarbital, are commonly used for euthanising domestic animals. Previously published studies have proved that these toxic compounds can cause lethal poisoning in different species of scavenging birds and mammals once they feed from euthanised animals. It’s the case of another scientific paper, published in 2021, that collected 3280 samples of suspected wildlife and domestic animal poisoning cases in Spain, from 2004 to 2020. Barbiturate intoxication was seen in 3.4% and over 90% corresponded to pentobarbital intoxication. The authors found out that “avian scavengers were most frequently affected by barbiturate intoxication (n = 36), especially Eurasian Griffon Vultures (Gyps fulvus) (n = 28)”.