Vultures buzz into Craig neighborhood, leave foulness behind
USDA's goal is to 'haze' birds out of town towards the Yampa River
For years, a foul, feathered and federally protected beast has tormented a Craig neighborhood with its intrusive presence and copious amounts of excrement.
It is known as the turkey vulture, and community members living on the 600 block of Taylor Street and surrounding areas have become very familiar with the unwelcome bird.
As the evening sun approaches the horizon, turkey vultures seek a communal roost away from their nests, far from city streets.
Unfortunately, the birds have an affinity for residential Craig. Taylor Street resident Vicki Huyser, who is in the midst of a heated battle with the bothersome buzzards, said the town’s warmth attracts the birds.
And once they find a comfortable spot, the vultures are far from subtle.
Vultures feed on carrion and the stench of their feces makes that overly apparent. If that isn’t bad enough, the birds also vomit anything they are unable to digest.
“It’s two times as bad as a chicken coup,” said Elaine DeuPree, who has lived on Taylor Street since 1994.
DeuPree went as far as having a healthy tree removed from her yard, because the vultures roosting in it was such a nuisance.
If she hadn’t taken action, it is likely the vultures would have killed her tree — as neighbors report almost a dozen trees have fallen victim to the birds’ acidic excrements.
“It’s like death,” said Huyser, describing the animal’s presence.
Because of the bird, Craig residents have been forced to keep their windows closed to avoid the stench. They also take to walking in the street as to not trod through piles of vulture vomit covering the sidewalk.
But most importantly, they have had to protect themselves from the disease inherently 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.”
With the overwhelming health concern and obvious intrusion in daily routines, residents of Taylor Street are ecstatic to see the city working for them to reach a resolution.
At a recent city council meeting, Craig City Council unanimously agreed to sign a $3,200 contract with USDA’s Wildlife Services to manage the situation.
The turkey vulture is federally protected, and only the USDA can issue permits to kill the bird as part of a control effort.
To get rid of the bird, federal employees plan to kill several birds and hang their corpses in the trees to influence the rest of the vulture flock.
USDA Grand Junction District Supervisor David Moreno said the goal is to “haze” the birds out of town toward the Yampa River.
Craig Mayor Ray Beck said this is a prime example of the community, local and federal entities working together to solve a problem, and he thinks it is the city’s responsibility to address the situation, especially considering the public health factor.
Beck helped rake leaves ridden with vulture vomit by Huyser’s home and Craig Fire/Rescue sprayed down her sidewalk with a fire hose. Still, white stains are visible on the sidewalk.
Craig residents burdened by the bird were adamant in their appreciation of city government’s, and specifically Beck’s, diligence on this issue.
“He helped us do what we have been trying to get done for years in a matter of months,” Taylor Street resident Tom Gilchrist said.
Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.
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A fire being dubbed “Skull Creek” is active north of U.S Highway 40 about 70 miles west of Craig along the highway, or 60 miles west-southwest as the crow flies.