Vulture vanquishing venture continues in Moffat County |

Vulture vanquishing venture continues in Moffat County

Vultures perch in a tree at Maybell Park. Moffat County residents have been plagued by the birds in both Craig and Maybell.
Patrick Kelly

Craig residents dealing with a turkey vulture problem were disappointed to hear that it may take several years of “hazing” to stop the intrusive birds from roosting in their trees.

At a meeting with U.S. Department of Agriculture representatives and city personnel, inhabitants of the 600 block of Taylor Street and surrounding area continued to express their concerns over the birds’ presence and discussed ways to keep pushing them out of town.

“It’s been a daunting task but it’s also an issue that we’re all concerned about for our community,” Craig Mayor Ray Beck said.

Turkey vultures are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and only the U.S. Fish and Wildlife can issue permits to kill the bird.

USDA Grand Junction District Supervisor David Moreno said permits are extremely limited in number and difficult to obtain.

“Our state permit limits us to 20 birds statewide,” he said.

A permit was used in Craig to kill a bird and hang it in one of Vicki Huyser’s trees at Sixth Street and Taylor Street as part of the hazing process.

“When they see the bird hanging upside down it’s a ‘you are not welcome’ sign,” Moreno said.

In addition to the effigy, USDA workers were deployed in the area for ten nights to employ other hazing techniques, like shooting noise-making rounds out of firearms or shining a laser at the birds.

But these techniques don’t scare the birds away overnight.

“In order to continue to train those birds, that effort may need to be repeated next year or the year after that,” Moreno said.

Prolonging the vulture removal was a cause for great concern for Craig resident Jayne Morley, who is worried about the health risks associated with vulture waste.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “… turkey vultures can be a danger to human health if in close proximity. Turkey vultures feed on dead carcasses, which may carry illnesses such as rabies, Hantavirus, toxoplasmosis or parasites, such as roundworm.”

Morley said the neighborhood can’t afford to sit idly by while the vulture’s present a public health risk.

“I really do have a concern that this is going to go on for years,” she said.

The City of Craig contracted the USDA for $3,200 to begin the hazing and Beck said the community has raised an additional $300 to continue the effort.

There has also been discussion about using city police to continue pushing the birds toward the Yampa River.

“We all knew going into this that it was going to be an ongoing process,” Beck said.

And now, that process may be starting in another Moffat County community.

After reading the Craig Daily Press’ initial coverage of the vulture venture, residents of Maybell reached out to the Moffat County commissioners about vultures spewing their foul smelling waste at Maybell Park.

Commissioner Frank Moe said he saw the mess the vultures made and has reached out to Moreno to see about hazing in Maybell.

“Unless you went and personally saw it, no one could really tell how you disgusting their excrement was,” he said. “It’s a definite health hazard.”

Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or or follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or or follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.

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