Millions of birds ‘sucked out of trees and killed’ during vacuum olive harvests
Millions of birds are being vacuumed up and killed during nocturnal suction olive harvesting in Spain and Portugal.
In Spain, 2.6 million birds die every year from being vacuumed, and in Portugal, 96,000 birds die per year.
Birds from northern Europe winter in these countries, and are at risk while roosting at night, according to BirdGuides.
The noise and light of the machines dazzle the birds, which are then sucked into suction olive harvesting machines and killed.
Olives are vacuumed at night when it's cool, to preserve their flavour.
Some local governments have already stopped the practice, but countries such as Italy and Portugal have not taken action
Domingos Leitão of the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA), said: "They should not be subject to disturbance in the rest period.
"If the birds in one row of olive trees are frightened, they fly to another; the Birds Directive says that they should not be disturbed during the rest period."
Nuno Sequeira added: "When negative impacts like these are detected, the authorities must act swiftly and accordingly. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of dead birds.
"The lack of regulation allows birds to die as well as other environmental impacts, such as soil erosion and contamination and pollution of aquifers with synthetic chemicals used in intensive and super-intensive agriculture."