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Page last updated at 10:22 GMT, Saturday, 25 April 2009 11:22 UK

EU acts to save 'hungry vultures'

By Chris Mason
BBC News, Brussels

Vultures. File photo
Vultures are often described as "nature's cleaners"

Farmers are to be allowed to leave dead livestock in their fields in parts of Europe - to help starving vultures.

MEPs voted for a change in the law after the hungry birds, most often found in Spain, had been spotted as far away as Brussels, scavenging for food.

The move allows farmers to leave dead livestock in their fields - providing it is deemed safe and hygienic.

Vultures are capable of stripping a dead cow or sheep carcass in a matter of hours.

Environmentalists describe the birds as "nature's cleaners".

But many vultures have been starving to death since European rules aimed at tackling mad cow disease forced all dead livestock to be cleared away.

This forced the birds to embark on some rather long-haul trips - one was even spotted recently perched on top of a bus shelter in Brussels.



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