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Why this dead bird was intentionally hung behind a local shopping mall

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COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- A dead vulture left hanging from a pole, over a pond, near Southpark Mall in Colonial Heights was not killed in an act of animal cruelty, nor a ritual.

The state director of the USDA Wildlife Services said it appeared the vulture is an effigy being used to help control the vulture population in the area.

Perched on trees beside a lake are hundreds of black vultures who have already wreaked havoc on one Colonial Heights office building. Will Thompson, who works for Webco General Partnership, who lease space inside, said it has been a pain trying to get the birds to move to a new location.

Video of flooding captured during last week’s storms  is due to  the vultures, Thompson said.

“The rain storm came through and they had eaten the rubber gaskets that seal the drain up on the roof and water came pouring through our lobby,"  Thompson explained. He warned to watch out for the same thing, noting that they can eat the gaskets, and mess with roofing shingles.

The company who owns that building said they’ve legally harassed the vultures with loud noises for weeks, but it hasn’t helped.

That is when Nick Walker said they called on wildlife experts for help. Workers with Virginia Wildlife Services came out to the building and hung several dead vultures around the area.

Jennifer Cromwell said the technique is a common practice. The tactic is used to deter vultures from roosting in a particular area.

“Sometimes just the presence of that vulture hanging in a certain way is enough to make the birds uncomfortable and they leave the site,"  Cromwell added.

She said it’s usually not before businesses and homeowners sometimes see considerable property damage.

“Sometimes they will sit on vehicles and scratch paint. They might pull windshield wipers off. They sit on top of homes and pull shingles off,” Cromwell explained.

As for the dead vultures that the agency used at the Colonial Heights site, wildlife experts say they will remain there for a few weeks before they replace them with others.  Cromwell said they will then reassess the situation to see if the vulture problem goes away.

She said her agency takes calls almost daily from property owners who have had some sort of damage caused by vultures. Cromwell said they advise businesses and homeowners who are having problems with vultures to first try to harass them using noise makers. If that doesn’t work, she said to report any property damage issues to a special help line.

It’s called the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline. You can reach experts there on the weekdays during business hours from 8:00 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. That toll free number is 855-571-9003.

1 Comment

  • Richard W. Firth

    I would like to know how they supply the dead vultures. Are they deliberately killed or they are dead from natural causes. If this practice works, can simulated vultures be used which would spare the life of the vultures.

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