Boaters and wildlife officials say black vultures have caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage the last several years at marinas at Rocky Fork and Paint Creek state parks.
Mike Bailey, chief of the Ohio Division of Parks, told The Times-Gazette the problem has been growing for a couple of years.
“We’re trying a more escalated approach,” he said, including more signage warning people of the problem, “bird bangers” to create loud noise to frighten the vultures away, and even providing loaner tarps to lake enthusiasts to protect their property.
“Our top concern is protecting our customers and visitors,” said Bailey.
Bailey said the vultures seem to be migrating from the south, and their protected status accounts for their flourishing population.
The scavengers, with 60-inch wing spans, have targeted just about anything made of rubber, canvas or vinyl they can get their beaks on. People have reported that vultures have destroyed boat covers, upholstery, vehicle wiper blades, convertible tops and truck bed covers.
One man says they ripped apart a $700 cover on his pontoon boat and that their droppings can destroy paint on boats and vehicles.
The state has received permits to kill 23 of the federally protected birds this year but prefer using non-lethal methods to scare them off.
Reggie Strauss told The (Toledo) Blade he “gets that creepy feeling that he has walked onto the set of an Alfred Hitchcock classic. Those big, black birds are watching him.”
“They’re here all of the time, and I’ve seen up to 50 of them at once, right here at the marina,” Strauss, a former Genoa resident who several years ago retired to southwestern Ohio, told the newspaper. “They rip everything up, and they are fearless. I’ve had to physically chase them off my boat and then the ones sitting on the boat next to mine never even flinch.”
The newspaper reported that Mike Miller, the new chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, “said that last year the ODNR had received close to $300,000 in damage reports attributed to black vultures at Rocky Fork and at nearby Paint Creek State Park.”
Information for this story also came from the Associated Press and The (Toledo) Blade.