Those Turkeys Getting You Down?

We have relied on working animals for thousands of years and we feel a particular affinity for them, especially if we are their handler. It is a little sad to read that a new venture into working animals in Germany has hit some snags. The BBC picked up the report from Der Spiegel today (1).

Here is the original idea. Recall all those old westerns with the flock of vultures circling in the distance over the villain coming to a bad end in the desert or, perhaps, a massacred wagon of settlers making their way westward. The Hanover police enrolled three turkey vultures to spot bodies and gave them the names Sherlock, Columbo and Miss Marple.

Sherlock was the first to go into training to become a winged police dog and search for bodies on Luneburg Heath. Vultures search by sight and also have a good sense of smell, so looked like a good addition to a rural police force. Sherlock was being trained on a resurrected burial shroud which has a good strong smell.

Training has not been going well. Sherlock is a little lazy and instead of flying around to locate the shroud, he prefers to stroll nonchalantly over to it. A dog can of course cover much more ground than a laid back vulture.

Bigger problems loom though. He is quite content to concentrate on animal remains. You see he is a little shy and timid and humans scare him so that he walks off and hides in the woods.

Sherlock was the elder statesbird of the three and was scheduled to help teach Columbo and Miss Marple the job. That’s not going well either. It’s not just Sherlock’s fault though. Columbo and Miss Marple don’t get on and are squabbling too much to pay any attention.

Do turkey vultures taste good with cranberry sauce?


One Response so far.

  1. Well at least they tried. Just goes to show Hollywood usually gets things wrong.

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