An Israeli vulture was detained on suspicion of spying on Tuesday after it drifted from its nature reserve over the border to Lebanon.
After intercepting the large bird, residents in the town of Bint Jbeil reportedly grew concerned once they discovered it was outfitted with a homing device from Tel Aviv University, New York magazine reported
They proceeded to tie the vulture to a tree using a rope, and inspected further.
The bird was ultimately determined to be free of cameras and listening devices — standard tools of espionage. It was then reportedly untied, said some Lebanese media reports, according to The Jerusalem Post
Officials from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) said they hoped the bird was released, and would make its way back to the reserve.
"In the 21st century we expect that people would understand that wild animals are not harmful and that their role is to act according to nature," Ohad Hatzofe, an avian ecologist for the INPA, said Tuesday afternoon. "We hope that the Lebanese will take care of him and release him."
The vulture, also known as the Eurasian griffon, arrived from Catalonia in July 2015, and was released onto the Israeli Gamla Nature Reserve roughly a month ago, officials said. They hope the vulture's relocation would help keep its population numbers up, as it has become an endangered species in the Middle East.
The incident is not the first time animals have been suspected or accused of working covertly for the Israelis.
"Last year, Hamas apprehended a 'Zionist spy dolphin' off the coast of Gaza," New York magazine reported. "Saudi Arabia detained a (presumably) different Israeli vulture on spying charges in 2011."
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