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German vulture detective hits turbulence

Bird-brained search-and-rescue scavenger

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German police in Lower Saxony hoping to train a vulture to seek out dead bodies are having issues with the bird's training.

Sherlock is one of team of three turkey vultures whom police had hoped to turn into a flying CSI unit. The plan was that they'd be fitted with GPS trackers so police could follow him when he swooped into action.

Unfortunately Sherlock is not keen on flying, preferring to hop around the training ground.

Although turkey vultures hunt by smell and can detect gases produced by decomposition Sherlock is struggling to tell the difference between rotting people and rotting animals.

Media fame meant the red-faced vulture was also called on to perform in public flying displays. But Sherlock's lack of enthusiasm for flight means he's been replaced by Bibo the pelican and Dolly the falcon.

Sherlock's two apprentices – Miss Marple and Columbo – are not doing much better.

Without a good role model to follow, the two do little more than fight each other.

The birds' trainer – who's called German Alonso apparently – said Sherlock had not tried training outside the zoo.

He said: "The bird is naturally anxious, and he would hide in the woods or bolt..."

Politicians, over-excited at all the media coverage, were hoping to turn the committee* of vultures into an international vulture detective school.

Der Spiegel has all the gritty, in English, here. ®

* Wikipedia reckons a group of vultures can also be called a venue or a wake.

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