By David Leone
Vultures are nature’s cleanup crew, but they don’t know when to stop — if there’s too much detritus to find. That’s why the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has issued a warning to the public, requesting people to stop leaving trash and fish guts for buzzards to find at boat ramps.
Fortunately, the problem isn’t immediately local — the commission cites troubles at locations on Lake Wylie, Tuckertown Lake and Badin Lake.
But it can become a problem at any fishing hole if people don’t stay diligent, said Geoff Cantrell, public information officer for N.C. Wildlife.
“Falls Lake is well maintained and cleaned,” he said. “[But] it could be a problem anywhere. … If people keep an area clean, it heads off all sorts of problems. An unsightly area is not very welcoming to the public.”
Buzzards, which are also known as vultures, have damaged cars, trucks and boat trailers at some Piedmont boating access areas.
Damage and nuisance issues created by boat ramp buzzards include scratches on vehicle hoods and roofs, exterior moldings pulled apart and windshield wipers torn away, as well as large amounts of droppings.
“We’ve heard of damages in the thousands of dollars,” Cantrell said.
The commission requests the public assist in the effort to reduce vulture visitation by keeping access areas clean and removing trash and food remnants. Anglers should not leave behind fish guts, unused bait and fish carcasses, including dumping them in the water. Anything that can attract vultures may also bring in other vermin, noted Cantrell.
To scare vultures away from boat ramps, N.C. Wildlife staff is using visual and audial deterrents, including pyrotechnics and replicas of dead vultures.
But the commission can’t exterminate buzzards — they’re a federally protected bird of prey. In problem areas, many boaters are covering vehicles with tarps or covers to prevent damage. Others are using alternate public boating access areas to reach the same waterway.
For more information on recreational boating and public boating access areas, see ncwildlife.org/boating or call 919-707-0031.