Like punks hanging out at the corner store, vultures in Shelbyville, Tennessee disrupt store owners and residents with their unwelcome presence. Since the local cell tower is a favorite haunt, Crown Castle has been in talks with Shelbyville Public Works Director Buck Vallad to develop a plan to deter the birds, reports the Shelbyville Times-Gazette.
“The birds [vultures] are protected,” explains consultant Brett Dunlap, a Tennessee and Kentucky wildlife biologist. “A USFWS Federal Depredation permit is required in order to use lethal methods. Non-lethal harassment, coupled with lethal reinforcement through shooting, is typically utilized in these situations. Using vulture effigies is extremely effective. The key to non-lethal harassment is persistence and utilizing multiple methods.”
Dunlap has recommended a multi-pronged approach, starting with removing any nearby roadkill that may lure the vultures in for lunch. More aggressive techniques like pyrotechnics and lasers may also be employed to deter the birds. Hanging an effigy is another recommendation from wildlife experts. One strategy suggests placing a dead animal, or fake dead animal, in the right place has proven to effectively keep black vultures away from that area.
While not not smack in the middle of town, the cell tower close to East Depot Street draws in the birds, who “paint” the sidewalks of the businesses located there. Business owner Kevin Gunter of Clarabelle Collectibles thanked the city for pressure washing the walkways, but noted that the vulture population has continued to grow and is now frequenting the suburbs.
“Vultures are very common in Tennessee. They routinely utilize towers for loafing and roosting structures,” noted Dunlap, though he does not know why this particular cell tower is so appealing to them.
Human occupants on East Depot Street just want to see the vultures leave town. Gunter noted that the current conditions deter visitors from wanting to come into his store. Across the street, Pam Birtcil, Executive Director for Bedford Builds Habitat for Humanity, says that she’s been diagnosed with a lung condition that is aggravated by the bird droppings and fears for her health.