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Vultures devour climber's body after fall

13:26 Mon May 6 2013
Dave Meddows

A French tourist who fell to her death in the Pyrenees was devoured by vultures before rescuers could retrieve her body.

The 52-year-old woman plummeted more than 300m after attempting a short cut while walking with two friends on the mountain range, which borders France and Spain.

It is unclear how much time elapsed between the fall and rescuers reaching her body, but an official told the International Business Times the Griffon vultures attacked with stealth.

"There were only bones, clothes and shoes left," he told The Times.

"They took 45 to 50 minutes to eat the body."

The incident has sparked calls for French farmers to be given the right to shoot the predatory animals.

They argue a European Union ruling forcing dead farm animals to be incinerated means there is no food for the birds.

Several farmers have reported seeing the vultures, who usually feed on animal carcasses, attack and carry away live animals, The Times reports.

"You can't imagine what it is like to see an animal eaten alive," one farmer said.

The removal of their food source has led to a change in behaviour in the birds, with more than 40 cases of farmers claiming compensation for lost livestock in the past few months.