On April 14, a 52-year-old unnamed woman hiking in the French Pyrenees fell to her death off a 1,000-foot drop on the Pic de Pista.
Emergency services found that only her clothing, boots and bones remained after the fall. Officials saw Griffon vultures, a type of protected carrion bird, in the area and believe that they consumed her body within as little as 40 minutes.
‘When we first went out in the helicopter looking for the body, we saw numerous vultures without realising what they were doing,’ he said.
According to the Daily Mail, Major Didier Pericou of the gendarmerie said that there was little left of her by the time a search party found her body.
‘There were only bones, clothes and shoes left on the ground.
‘They took 40 to 50 minutes to eat the body.’
Local rural French and Spanish farmers and ranchers are using the incident as a call to arms, and demanding the right to kill the birds. They claim that the vultures have started to attack live adult cattle and sheep, and even small children, and have reported 42 attacks this past year.
One farmer, Alain Larralde, said he saw a group of vultures attack and start eating an adult cow. There have been reports of live animals carried off.
‘You can’t imagine what it is like to see an animal eaten alive,’ Mr Larralde was reported to have said.
They cite strict European rules to prevent the spread of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy and other diseases as the source of the problem. The EU rules require farmers to burn all dead livestock instead of dumping them for the birds to eat. In the past, the birds had more than enough food from these and wild carcasses and have now lost a vital source of nourishment.
There is no current evidence to suggest the female hiker was attacked before her death.
Vultures Eat French Tourist Killed in Fatal Pyrenees Cliff Plunge
Woman eaten by vultures: Tourist, 52, plunges 1,000ft to her death in the Pyrenees and is then devoured by VULTURES before rescuers can reach her
Woman eaten by vultures Hiker falls 1,000 feet to her death, gets eaten by vultures in 40 minutes