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article imageGerman police training vultures to help find dead bodies

By Lynn Curwin     Jun 3, 2011 in Crime
German police are hoping that vultures will be able to help them fight crime - by locating corpses that humans and dogs are unable to find.
Sherlock, Miss Marple and Columbo - turkey vultures - are currently undergoing training in Germany.
It is believed that their excellent eyesight and acute sense of smell might make them suitable for the job. By flying they are not faced with the same problems difficult terrain poses for most searchers.
"The vultures may work much more effectively than sniffer dogs," the BBC quoted Rainer Herrmann, Hanover police officer, as saying.
"There's a lot of interest in this. We've had inquiries from Germany, Austria and Switzerland."
Plans are to have a GPS locator attached to the birds when they are sent on a search.
"It was a colleague of mine who got the idea from watching a nature programme, Herrmann said, according to Geekologie.
"Vultures have a keen sense of smell and are able to detect the scent of rotting flesh from 3,000ft up in the air."
The Escapist reported that the birds will need to be trained to seek out only human bodies, without going after other dead animals, and that, "Presumably, police are also attempting to train the vultures to not actually eat the bodies once they are found."
Police admitted it could take a few more months, or years, before the birds are ready to take part in investigations.
"They don’t seem to like each other a lot," the Austrian Times reported quoted an animal coach working with the vultures as saying. "They scuffle like wayward schoolboys all the time."
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