TEL AVIV, Israel, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- A vulture tagged by Israeli scientists strayed into Saudi Arabia, prompting officials to accuse Israel of spying.
The vulture, found by Saudi security officials in a rural area, wore a transmitter and leg bracelet bearing the name of Tel Aviv University, the Israeli daily Maariv said Tuesday.
Scientists at the university said the bird was tagged to study migration patterns in the region, the Hebrew-language newspaper said.
Arab-language Web sites posted details of the vulture's flight, alleging it was a Zionist plot and that Israel was training the birds for espionage, the report said.
The Saudi Arabian newspaper al-Weeam was the first to report the incident. It said the vulture landed near the home of a sheik in the community of Hayel. The report said the bird had a "foul odor coming out of its mouth -- proof of a Zionist plot." This led to a spate of anti-Israeli comments in the Arab media.
The English-language Israel Today Web site said the Iranian Tabnak news agency reported the serial number on the bird's tag left no doubt it was sent to spy on Saudi Arabia and other countries.
The "spy personal number of X63 [the identification number on the bird's bracelet] leaves no doubt that the other birds are going to be sent by the Zionist regime for espionage against Saudi Arabia and other countries."