HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – Some Henrico residents say their neighborhood has been taken over by hundreds of vultures and they blame a nearby landfill. They called 12 On Your Side for help.
We've monitored the neighborhood for almost a week now and residents are frustrated. We haven't seen the vultures by the hundreds like residents say they have, but experts say black vultures move among five and six different roosts.
Say black vulture and immediately you think "dead" or "dying". Say it to Cheryl Christian and her neighbors, and they immediately think "dump". The East End Landfill on Darbytown Road is roughly a half mile drive or "fly" from their Almondberry Court neighborhood. Residents are convinced the dump's close proximity makes their neighborhood trees attractive to scavengers and predators flying in to roost.
"I think it's a direct correlation with that dump and more stuff coming into it all the time," said neighbor Michael Burrell.
"We're asking that the landfill be relocated," Shirley Fiend said.
Delegate McQuinn and Henrico Supervisor Donati have both heard from residents and they're still talking about the landfill. Meantime the vultures are still loafing, damaging roofs and sheds, stripping rubber off windshield wipers.
"They were just sitting on here about 5 or 6 of them and one has his beak down into it. I came out and chased it off," said Michael.
"You can hear them walking on the roof," Cheryl added.
They are also scaring people and dogs.
"My neighbor. They've been in his backyard and it was like a whole group in his backyard trying to get to his dog but she's been fighting them off," Cheryl recalled.
We consulted a USDA vulture expert Scott Barris. He says vultures are migratory birds protected by federal law.
"There are situations where these protected birds can be shot but that activity must be conducted under a federal permit," he said.
Barris won't weigh in on residents' landfill theory but says it's rare a black vulture attacks a cat or dog.
"The black vultures have been known to kill livestock in particular, small lambs and calves," said Barris.
"Vultures feed on dead animals. Highways are a primary area where they find dead animals that are hit by cars. They feed in those areas."
Residents want the birds gone but they're not convinced suggested methods to move the roost will work.
"He said what we could do make loud sounds also with water, pointing that at the buzzards when they perch on the home but that's not a solution," said Shirley.
Barris says it takes a concerted effort to move a roost. Residents must be diligent and the county police will have to participate along with the USDA. We're keeping watch. If the birds return in numbers, the USDA is ready to help us execute a plan of attack.