USDA Helping Staunton Eliminate Vulture Problem

January 11, 2011

Staunton is getting help from the federal government in an effort to rid the city of more than 500 vultures.

WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg reports that U.S. Department of Agriculture representatives began hunting the birds Monday. While vultures are federally protected, the agency is authorized to shoot, or capture and put to death, up to 200 birds. The vultures will be killed only until the flocks disperse.

"We're going to do this discreetly," said Thomas Sliwoski, Staunton public works director. Sliwoski said many residents are opening their property to USDA hunters. "Most people have said, 'do whatever you can to get rid of them.' "

Loud noises also will be used to scare off the vultures but they haven't been successful in the past.

Sliwoski said no one has reported property damage, but residents are concerned about health and safety.

"They're a pain in the rump," said Valley View Drive resident Timmy Simmons. "Where in the world are they all coming from?" he asked, watching birds flock to an already crowded bare tree.

The USDA rarely steps in to help disperse the birds. Besides shooting, the agency plans to hang carcasses in trees to warn other vultures.

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