Polish Environmental Group Gets a Huge Phone Bill Thanks To a Stork

In 2018, the environmental group EcoLogic placed a tracker on the back of a white stork to track the bird’s migratory habits. It traveled some 3,700 miles and was traced to the Blue Nile Valley in eastern Sudan before EcoLogic lost contact. It seems that someone found the tracker in Sudan, removed the SIM card, put it into their own phone, and then racked up 20 hours worth of phone calls. EcoLogic ended up receiving a phone bill of over 10,000 Polish zloty ($2,700), which they had to pay. Investigators said they suspected the stork was shot down to access the SIM card. There is a growing risk of GPS “cyber-poachers” — including photographers, hunters and professional poachers — who use trackers to hunt them down. To date, the responsible party has never been found. Stork-tagging plays an important role in environmental research and conservation of migratory birds, and data from micro-GPS trackers can be used to help scientists assess birds’ habits, social behavior, and threats.