HALLETTSVILLE – James Migl pointed a kind of cap gun into the air.
Sparks flew from the gun as he pulled the trigger.
Black vultures that had been perched on a tree behind Snowflake Donuts on Fairwinds Street lept into the air when they heard the screech that followed.
“Bang up job!” City Administrator Jason Cozza said to Migl and Public Works Director Otto Cervenka.
The city is using pyrotechnics to flush about a hundred black vultures after receiving complaints from residents.
For years, the vultures have roosted in powerlines, trees and fence posts on Willis and Kroschel streets.
Cozza said the city recently purchased the necessary equipment to flush the vultures for about $180.
It’s illegal to take, kill or possess vultures in the U.S., so using pyrotechnics is often used to harass vultures when they become a nuisance, said Romey Swanson, director of conservation strategy for Audubon Texas.
Swanson said it is important people ask what problem they are trying to solve by harassing the vultures lest they create a new one.
One problem might be that the vultures are roosting in an area where their feces and regurgitated food might come into contact with people.
He said people should be mindful that harassing the vultures may cause them to move to another area that is worse.
Swanson and Texas Parks and Wildlife Ornithologist Cliff Shackelford said the vultures have adapted in such a way as to provide important service for all.
Swanson said vultures have strong stomach acids so they can digest dead animals, and without them, roadkill would take longer to decompose.
“You can imagine that untreated by the vultures, that the congregation of dead animals across the landscape could cause water quality issues in addition to a number of other concerns,” he said.
Shackelford said he’s seen roosts of up to 300 vultures and that’s because there’s safety in numbers. Vultures are also quite social.
“People don’t like it because they think about what they eat, but man, vultures are a good neighbor to have,” he said.