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Buzzards Be Gone—Ohio college works to rid campus of vultures

Federal agency is using fake birds and fireworks to get the vultures to leave Denison College in Granville, Ohio.

With the assistance of fake birds and fireworks, the U. S. Department of Agriculture has come to Denison University in Granville, Ohio, to get rid of vultures that have made their home on the campus.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's efforts are aimed at shrinking the number of turkey and black vultures that have made themselves a nuisance at the school.

Ken Wiegand, chief engineer of facility services at the university, says when he began working on the campus about a dozen years ago, it was home to 100 to 150 of the vultures. In recent years, that number had more than doubled.

The federal agency has hung taxidermal vultures from trees to send the message to the birds that the area is not safe for them.

“They see one of their own hanging dead, they know it means danger,” says Jeff Pelc, a wildlife biologist and district supervisor in wildlife services at the agency.

Part of the attraction is Denison’s tall pines, other trees and buildings that provide cover and warm places for birds during colder months.

The birds have caused damage to campus facilities by picking at the membranes of campus roofs and pulling at caulking around vents.

In addition, when their feathers and droppings accumulate around air-handling units or other areas, they create a health hazard.

In the past year alone, buzzards caused about $50,000 in damage at Denison. That doesn't take into account the time that employees spend on repairing or cleaning problem spots.

Wiegand says about 20 showed up on a recent night, but Denison workers scared them off and are keeping an eye out for others to return, ready to raise a ruckus if necessary.

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