Bearded vulture flies in Italy Alps once more

Extinct 100 years ago, gradually reintroduced

(ANSA) - Bolzano, June 17 - A century after it became extinct in the Alps, the bearded vulture has taken flight in northern Italy once more, officials in the northeastern Trentino-Alto Adige region said Friday.
    The bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) is a bird of prey that eats mainly carrion and lives and breeds on crags in high mountains in Africa, the Caucasus, southern Europe, the Indian subcontinent, and Tibet. Females lay one or two eggs in midwinter, which hatch at the beginning of spring. Eleven young bearded vultures were released into the wild in Italy's Stelvio National Park between 2000 and 2008, and the birth of the first "made in Alto Adige" fledgling was confirmed in July last year.
    "The reintroduction of this bird into the Alps is proceeding positively," said Alto Adige councilmember for the environment, Richard Theiner. "Of course more time, constant monitoring, and adequate protection measures are needed".
    Stelvio National Park - the largest in Italy, covering parts of Trentino-Alto Adige and Lombardy - is part of an international bearded vulture repopulation project. The first specimen was set free in 1986, and the first birth in the wild of a bearded vulture was documented in France in 1997, with a couple of specimens settling in Stelvio National Park the following year.