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.

Jessica Priest reports on the environment and Calhoun County for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at jpriest@vicad.com or 361-580-6521.

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Environment/Investigations Reporter

Jessica Priest has done a little bit of everything since moving to Victoria in 2012. She was a regular fixture in the Crossroads’ historic courthouses, but now slathers on the sunscreen to report on the environment.

(1) comment

June Secrist

Whe have a small roost behind the resturants near Navarro and Sam Houston. Most are young birds by immature beak color. They hang out near dumpsters but are also valuable cleaning up roadkill. The can consume dry pet food if desperate. The dropping carry no disease. Digestive acids kills harmful bacteria less odor than pet poop. The can hunt small animals so watch small cats and dogs.but so do owls and hawks,which also roost nearby. They have excellent eye sight. Interesting birds.

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