Welcoming thousands of wild birds in distress each year, the center protects and safeguards these species.
Located in Villeveyrac, the bird protection league has 37 employees and more than 100 volunteers, making it the largest association in the region. Structured in ten departments, by the end of the year it should bring together all of Occitania. Dealing mainly with birds, it has nevertheless expanded its fields of activity, as Pierre Maigre, president of the regional LPO, points out: “For 7-8 years we have extended our action to all biodiversity, i.e. insects, reptiles, etc.”.
In 2012, a rescue center for wildlife in distress was created, which receives more than 3,000 animals per year. Last year, about 2900 birds of more than 100 different species ranging from wrens to bearded vultures. “We receive between 5 and 10 vultures each year. We would like to create a small population between the Alps and the Pyrenees so that erratic birds cross and settle. With the aim of enrichment and genetic mixing”.
Some species are equipped with a GPS geolocator to track the bird, this is the case of the kestrel which spends its winters in Africa. “If we are within 200 meters with an antenna, we can empty all their memory. So we know exactly what they did”. This system makes it possible to better understand the animal and to adapt to it in a better way.
The care center works in collaboration with certain establishments such as the Montpellier University Hospital or the Faculty of Pharmacy. This cooperation makes it possible to prevent certain diseases that certain animals can transmit to humans. “We are very attentive to birds that show symptoms of avian flu because we are the alert donors at the departmental level”.
Living with humans
Living with certain species is sometimes complicated or even impossible. This is why everything is supervised and controlled in this association which never loses sight of its goal: protection and safeguarding. Pierre Maigre distinguishes two categories those who will quickly become attached to the man “the trainers are forbidden to speak to the animals, to speak in front of them, we do not caress them and we do not give them nicknames” and those who will rather be fierce “if they are injured they may get agitated seeing us aggravating their injuries”.
The president of the regional LPO is sounding the alarm on one point. “It happens to us to receive animals which have sometimes been kept for 5 months in captivity and to have to euthanize them because there has been a bad diet. People do not understand that certain foods should not be given. some get attached to it, watch TV or sleep with the animal. It’s a beast of the fair”. To remedy these actions and save as many animals as possible, his only request is “to bring the animal as soon as possible”avoiding the euthanasia of several hundred species.
The black swift, the most common species
Like every association, the LPO has a species that is unfortunately very present: the black swift. Its presence is due to climatic upheaval. “They are born and nest under the tiles, with the heat the chicks throw themselves into the void, as their wings are not developed enough they stay on the ground”. Faced with the impossibility of putting the chicks back in the nest since they repeated, the association takes care of them.
“We turn around 550 chicks in a month, a month and a half. They have to be fed every hour and a half. It’s a team of 5-6 people who take turns all day”.