In response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s efforts this week to scare off 200 to 250 vultures away from a southeast Leesburg neighborhood, a Town Council member is opposing how the birds are being treated.
Leesburg Town Council Member Marty Martinez on Wednesday released a statement saying he would support the current process as long as it’s done only in a non-lethal manner and without lasers.
The town, Martinez said, has received 84 emails from residents who would rather save the vultures than hurt them.
“I do not advocate any lethal uses to remove the vultures and will do what I can to ensure that non-lethal and no lasers are used to remove the vultures,” he said in a statement. “Even though they are a nuisance to some neighborhoods, I believe they should be protected.”
The USDA will be in the area of Mayfair Drive and Plaza Street until Jan. 11 using various methods to scare the vultures away.
The vultures have roosted in the trees of the Camp family on Mayfair Drive and are causing damage to the neighborhood by stripping bark from trees, eating the rubber off roofs and cars and defecating in yards.
The vultures excrement is acidic enough to eat the paint off cars, according to the USDA.
On Jan. 7, the USDA began efforts to scare the vultures away, using techniques such as firing blanks into the air as the birds approached.
Other methods that are sometimes used include pyrotechnics and lasers. The USDA on Jan. 7 also hung the carcass of a vulture from a tree in the Camps’ backyard to scare the birds away.
“For a species making a living at eating dead things they’re sensitive to their own species,” Scott Barras, state director for the USDA’s wildlife service program, told the Times-Mirror last week.
Martinez said vultures are a critical part of the ecosystem and while their numbers increase in the winter, they will decline as non-resident birds migrate north and flocks disperse.
“We welcome the opportunity to help the community build an understanding of vultures and the critical roles they play in our ecosystem,” Martinez said in a prepared statement. “It also should be recognized that many communities actually celebrate vultures.”
Martinez said he is looking forward to discussing the issue with town staff. He is requesting that the town allow USDA to displace the birds by non-lethal means only. He is also requesting that lasers not be used.
Martinez and a USDA official could not be immediately reached for further comment.
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