German police train vulture 'detectives'

June 3, 2011 at 2:59 PM

HANOVER, Germany, June 3 (UPI) -- German police say that as part of their fight against crime they are training vultures as "detectives" that could aid in the search for hidden bodies.

Three of the birds -- dubbed Sherlock, Miss Marple and Columbo -- are being trained in Walsrode bird park in northern Germany near Hanover, the BBC reported Friday.

Police say they hope the birds' keen eyesight and acute sense of smell might make them as skillful as their fictional namesakes.

Police are reportedly using a piece of shroud from a mortuary for the training exercise.

Three birds are being used because vultures prefer to roam big areas as a group, they said.

The vultures are thought to be ideal for finding bodies when large areas have to be searched and the terrain is difficult.

"The vultures may work much more effectively than sniffer dogs," Hanover police officer Rainer Herrmann said

"There's a lot of interest in this. We've had inquiries from Germany, Austria and Switzerland," he said.

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