GILMER, Texas (KLTV) - The City of Gilmer has sent a rather loud message to some unwanted guests. Hundreds of black vultures have made the 700 block of Highway 271 their home. That wasn’t too much of a problem until they attacked a car which caused a couple thousand dollars in damage, so the city asked for federal help.
KLTV 7 was in a Gilmer restaurant parking lot with the city’s manager when the USDA Wildlife service fired off a few incendiaries to try to scare the birds away.
Gilmer City Manager Greg Hutson was eyeing a tree full of black vultures as they eyed him back behind the Sonic on Highway 271. USDA Wildlife was going to fire pyrotechnics in:
“Three different stages, one behind me in this tree. They’re roosting over there. There’ll be another stage over there. And then the third stage will be across the street so when they begin firing the pyrotechnics, they’re going to watch to see where they fly off to,” Hutson explained.
Hutson says they wait until the birds have settled in for the night before firing what are pretty much bottle rockets near the roost. The black vultures weren’t doing much but making people nervous until they attacked a parked car, chewing up some of the rubber.
“I asked the federal Parks and Wildlife employee, I mean are they eating that? He goes, no they just like to be mischievous basically and just do it,” Hutson relayed.
And Hutson says the city is spending about forty thousand dollars on a spillway repair:
“Filling the joints with a material that they like to pick,” Hutson revealed.
So, before more vulture vandalism was committed, it was time for some fireworks.
And yes, the birds have flown.
“They scattered. They came back. They scattered again, they came back, and they scattered again. Maybe they finally got the message that we don’t want them here,” Hutson said.
Wildlife kept on eye on their flight.
“They don’t have to roost for them to fire. They just fire where they’re at to get them out of here,” Hutson explained.
“We’re not going to make it comfortable for them here,” Hutson said.
“Not anymore,” I interjected.
“Not anymore. That’s correct,” Hutson agreed.
A long time employee of the nearby Sonic restaurant said the birds have been roosting in the same dead tree for a few years, from September to January.
“You know, they’ve not been a problem before. Had they not picked on that guy’s car and did property damage we wouldn’t be here today,” Hutson said.
So, it all boiled down to an issue that was complaint driven and the city addressed the issue.
Unfortunately Tuesday morning the vultures were back, so the scare tactics will continue.
Several city employees will be trained on the proper use of the pyrotechnics so they can continue the process for up to two weeks. USDA Wildlife officials will stay on to help for the next few days.