STAUNTON, Va -- As the winter season starts, many vultures flock to the Valley to get warm. Neighbors in Staunton said they want to see the vultures go and now, city leaders are taking action.
USDA Wildlife Specialist Mark Robb could be seen shooting at a roost of turkey vultures on Tuesday. He said loud noise and even displaying dead vulture bodies scares the birds away.
This wasn't the first time he's been in Staunton.
“When we started here a couple years ago there were about 500 vultures in town, that was the worst year. That first year,” said Robb.
A worker with the Staunton Department of Public Works said that since that first year, the number has decreased by about half, but no matter what, the vultures keep returning.
The vultures are attracted to trees like the Norway Spruce and White Pine, commonly found on the north side of Staunton. One neighbor who owns those type of trees said sometimes she wakes up and the vultures are on her porch.
It seems everyone in Staunton has a story about the vultures.
Another neighbor said the problem goes back as far as 1993. Jim Kivlighan said he often sees the birds across the street from his house. Sometimes he has to bang pots and pans together to get them to go away.
“They're nasty, I think. Their droppings are very very nasty. I have a dog, a new puppy here, Jubille, and I wouldn't put her in the back yard with the vultures out there,” said Kivlighan.
The vultures eat a lot of road kill and have a tendency to seek out rubber. That makes their droppings very corrosive and potentially dangerous.
These hazards are why Robb said he will most likely be in Staunton again next year.
“It's a maintenance type thing, because this is a preferred area and they're going to keep trying to come back,” said Robb.
USDA specialists plan to be in Staunton for the next few weeks and they may even have to shoot some of the birds.
The vultures are federally protected and that means neighbors need a special permit to deal with them on their property.
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