Village seeks fed’s help in addressing issue of turkey buzzards and black buzzards
At dusk and after dawn, they circle overhead and seem to have grown in numbers in the past year or so in Salado. Many Saladoans consider the black vulture and turkey vulture to be more of a nuisance than a necessity, though the large birds are nature’s garbage disposals.
And as migratory birds, they are protected by a treaty dating to the early 20th Century. So dealing with the committees (or volts, or venues – which is somewhat ironic since they gather in large numbers near Salado’s The Venue on Center Circle) comes under the jurisdiction of the federal government.
Salado aldermen will learn more at their 6:30 p.m. Feb. 5 meeting at the Municipal Building about a program with the Department of Agriculture to rid areas of the Village in which Turkey Buzzards and Black Buzzards have take to roost.
Salado alderman Amber Dankert reported that she is working with the Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services department to address the growing concern of the growing population of vultures along Salado Creek.
Vultures are a very adaptable species of birds and choose to live near human populations for the ready supply of food and cover. They like to roost in large numbers on anything tall, from cell phone towers, to high rises to trees barren of leaves. It gives them a vantage point to spot small animals, either dead or living.
An emergency Depredation Permit from the USDA Wildlife Services division will allow for the harassment of the vultures at their roosts as well as the possible take, or killing, of some of the birds in order to bring their numbers back into a manageable realm.
The problem with these large garbage disposers is that the genetic strengths that make them immune to the possible bacteria and diseases associated with eating carrion can cause trouble in populate areas.
It comes down to the three Ps: pee, poop and puke. All of which are very acidic and can cause damage wherever they do it, which according to biologists with USDA is just about everywhere.
The birds pee down their legs. The high uric acid is a form of protection against the bacteria swarming around the road kill and natural kills that they consider a fine meal.
The birds puke, as a natural reaction to being disturbed. “The birds regurgitate a reeking and corrosive vomit as a natural defense,” according to a 2010 USDA fact sheet on vulture damage.
And their poop is more corrosive than other birds, which is trouble for the paint job of cars parked beneath their roosting areas.
And their long claws, used for tearing apart dead flesh, is damaging as well to car rooftops, paint jobs, building roofs, window ledges and anywhere else they might choose to set down.
But they are doing a necessary job in ridding the ecosystem of dead and dying animals, including white tail deer, which are also overpopulating areas populated by humans.
The birds, in Salado at least, seem to have gathered mostly along Salado Creek in Pace Park and along properties on Center Circle.
Dr. Dankert said she has contacted three of those property owners about the black vultures and has their support for pursuing an abatement/population control of the birds. She meets this week with a biologist out of the Dallas office of the USDA to pursue an emergency Depredation Permit for ridding the area of the birds.
The first step will be harassment, coming in the form of noise, and a lot of it. Air cannons and other noisemakers will be set off near the roosts of the venues of vultures. In Pace Park, where the birds have taken up in dead trees, the dead trees along the banks of the creek will also be removed.
If harassment doesn’t work on bringing the problem under control, then the next step will be “a taking,” Dr. Dankert said.
In other words, killing the birds.