After residents of the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbail accused a captive griffon vulture of espionage on Tuesday, Israel Nature and Parks Authority officials expressed hopes that the animal would be released soon.

Claiming that the griffon vulture (also known as the Eurasian griffon) was carrying Israeli spy equipment, residents immediately caught the bird in order to prevent it from attacking citizens, according to Lebanese media. The same reports said that once the town’s security staff determined that the bird was not a threat, it was released. By evening, however, the INPA could not yet confirm whether these statements were true.

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The transmitter worn by the vulture indicated that the vulture was observed in a Bint Jbail quarry, about 4 km. north of the Israeli border, the INPA said on Tuesday afternoon.

The vulture in question was released in the Gamla Nature Reserve about a month ago, after arriving to Israel on an Arkia flight from Catalonia in July 2015, the INPA explained. In bringing in the vulture from abroad, officials hoped to increase the population of what has become an endangered species throughout the Middle East in general, and particularly within Israel.

“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,” said Ohad Hatzofe, an avian ecologist for the INPA. “We hope that the Lebanese will take care of him and release him.”

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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