by Michael Lowrey
Seems there’s a growing problem of vultures — the bird sort, not the lawyer sort — attacking cars parked at boat ramps. As the Raleigh News & Observer reports:
An angler comes in after a day on Tuckertown Lake, southwest of Asheboro, ties his boat to the dock and walks to the parking lot to retrieve his truck and trailer. As he reaches for his keys, he notices the vehicle has been attacked by vandals. The paint is scratched, the side trim pulled off, the rubber windshield gasket plucked out and torn to bits.
The culprits? Flocks of Coragyps atratus, the black vulture, or its relative, Cathartes aura, the turkey vulture. These common raptors have made an increasing nuisance of themselves recently by tearing up vehicles parked at some North Carolina boat ramps, as if an unattended Dodge Ram were just another roadside deer carcass.
In North Carolina, Wildlife Resources has posted signs at some of its boat ramps, reminding anglers and boaters not to drop trash, dump unused bait, clean the day’s catch or otherwise appeal to vultures’ powerful olfactory senses.
Biologists say the aroma of rotting flesh – whether spare minnows deposited by humans or dead fish washed onto a lake shore by wave motion – is prime vulture bait. They are carnivorous creatures that can kill small prey but rarely do, relying almost entirely on carrion, which they rip apart with their strong bills.
Even when a corpse is long past the expiration date other scavengers observe, vultures will still eat it, protected by stomach acid so corrosive it kills the dangerous bacteria.
So yes, please don’t (unintentionally) feed the vultures.