Wildlife Services offers tips on dealing with vultures

  • Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013 12:01 a.m.
STAFF PHOTO BY AMY BANTON
A vulture flies out of frame.
STAFF PHOTO BY AMY BANTON A vulture flies out of frame.

A New Ellenton resident wakes up on a beautiful, sunny day and goes outside to grab their newspaper but they feel a pair of eyes peering down at them.

Turkey vulture vs. Black vulture

• Turkey vulture: The turkey vulture is approximately 4 pounds with a wingspan of about 6 feet. It is mostly dark brown or black, an adult turkey vulture has a featherless, red head.

• Black vulture: The black vulture is smaller, weighing less than 4 pounds with a wingspan under 5 feet.

– Source: Wildlife Services

They look up and there’s a vulture using their rooftop as a place to soak up some sun.

“It’s probably something they don’t want to see first thing in the morning,” said Wildlife Services State Director Noel Myers, who set up the scenario that may be familiar to many living in New Ellenton.

New Ellenton City Council was recently approached by several concerned residents who have noticed an increase in the area’s vulture presence, and officials are trying to figure out a way to abate the problem.

New Ellenton Mayor Vernon Dunbar said senior residents are particularly bothered by the menacing-looking birds.

“It’s kind of scary because they are big, and they like to stay in dead trees,” Dunbar said.

Dunbar said they contacted Myers who offered some advice on how to rid the City of these vultures.

South Carolina has two types of these birds – the turkey vulture and the black vulture. Though they are not known for causing physical harm to people, they can be a nuisance.

Black vultures have damaged homes and commercial buildings by destroying caulking, roof shingles, vent seals, rubber roof liners and pool covers with their sharp nails and beaks, according to Wildlife Services. Vulture droppings, acidic urine and corrosive vomit can be destructive to man-made surfaces.

Though vultures are scavengers, the black vulture has displayed predatory behaviors by attacking young livestock or other weak animals.

These birds can be trouble-makers, but they are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act – it is illegal to harm or kill vultures. But, Myers said nothing prevents residents from “harassing them.”

Myers said loud noises often scare off vultures. Removing attractants like dead trees or open garbage containers can also help decrease the vulture population around one’s property.

Wildlife Services also uses a technique in which they hang real or constructed vulture effigies around a populated area to scare off the birds. To use an actual dead vulture to deter others from roosting in an area, that would be left to Wildlife Services officials or a permit has to be obtained.

Vultures can be found pretty much all over South Carolina, and Myers said the population seems to be growing.

“That seems to be the trend,” Myers said. “We have no shortages of vultures, basically, in the state of South Carolina.”

To report a vulture problem or for more information, call 866-487-3297 or visit www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/.

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