Lovettsville’s Buzzard Battle Returns

With the Lovettsville’s water tower beginning to show damage from roosting vultures, a new effort is gearing up to encourage them to find a new hangout.

“This is a common issue with large, high-rise things,” Town Manager Jason Cournoyer acknowledged during the March 10 council meeting.

It’s also a familiar problem to the nearby residents in the New Town Meadows neighborhood, although it has been a few years since the last full-on battle with the birds.

In 2016, the town tried the novel approach of hanging inflatable whales in the roosting area in hopes of chasing the vultures away. Instead, the birds settled in beside them. That led to consideration of more extreme measures, such as banging on the tank, shooting off fireworks, or hanging a fake effigy of a vulture there.  When the birds returned in 2017,  the council reviewed a $3,179 proposal from the USDA to use pyrotechnics, effigies, lights, lasers and firearms, but opted to save the expense.

Vice Mayor Christopher Hornbaker said he was pretty sure the whale inflatables had been thrown away, so that’s not likely an option this time.

Cournoyer said he would work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to identify some effective—and permanent—deterrents. Vultures are federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and special permits are required to kill them. Harassing them, however, is perfectly legal.

“We will get it cleaned up, but bear with us in the meanwhile,” Cournoyer said.

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