Villagers Release Vulture They Thought Was Israeli Spy It was an honest mistake By Michael Harthorne, Newser Staff Posted Jan 30, 2016 12:22 PM CST 32 comments Comments This might appear to be an Israeli spy, but look closer. It's actually a vulture. (Shutterstock) (Newser) – A falsely accused Israeli spy has been returned home after being captured in Lebanon this week, and authorities are confident it will soon be soaring over Israel's countryside once again, Haaretz reports. Oh, it should be mentioned the suspected spy is a giant vulture, one that was released into Israel's Gamla Nature Reserve about a month ago, notes the BBC. On Tuesday, it was captured by Lebanese villagers who tied it to a tree after noticing a GPS transmitter on its tail. They were sure it was spying for Israel. In reality, the tracking device was attached by researchers at Tel Aviv University who are trying to bolster the decimated raptor population in the Middle East. UN peacekeepers got involved, and the vulture was returned to Israel on Thursday. Haaretz reports that the bird "received a hero's welcome" upon its return home. The vulture—which originally came to Israel from Spain—was weak and suffered minor injuries during its capture, but authorities are hopeful it will soon be healthy enough to return to the wild. Surprisingly, this isn't the first time a vulture has been suspected of being an Israeli spy. The BBC notes that the same thing happened with another bird from Tel Aviv University that was captured in 2011 in Saudi Arabia.