All along the water tower … project focused on bye bye, buzzards


Gatherings of turkey vultures on the water tower and in neighboring areas were a common site before the town’s recent actions. /Lee Sullivan

MOORESVILLE – Local town government performs a variety of useful – but hardly glamorous – functions to keep its residents satisfied and safe. Trash collection, water treatment, road maintenance and the like are all useful services Mooresville residents likely take for granted but would immediately notice if they suddenly went missing.

But turkey vulture control? Who you gonna call?

Apparently, a town manager with some experience in the matter.

Residents in the Mill Village area and regular visitors to the town’s library on Main Street are likely all too familiar with the menacing sign of dozens of rather large turkey vultures congregating on the water tower near the building’s parking lot. It’s a gathering that while mesmerizing to see, is truly not the best place for them to be.

“It’s funny, it happens like that,” says Mooresville Town Manager Randy Hemann. “It happened to me when I was a (town) manager in Oxford. And there it happened to be right next to the bed and breakfast I was staying in before I got all the way moved there. For some reason, they’ll just select a high vantage point like that, and move in.”

It’s an unnerving sight, and one not at all very welcome. To put it politely, the mess they can create in the wake of their congregation is far from sanitary. They may very well be our unpaid road carrion cleaning crew, but dozens of them perching several feet above any public space is far from desirable.

And getting rid of them can be tricky. 

Turkey vultures in North Carolina are a federally protected species, so efforts to get them to cease and desist from congregating – and eliminating – high above the citizenry have to be tempered.

A fake turkey buzzard strung upside down beneath Mooresville’s North Church Street water tower is working, for now, to ward off committees of vultures. /Lee Sullivan

Their protected species status means they can’t be harmed, but according to Hemann, they can be spooked.

Take a stroll by that water tower, and you’ll see what Hemann found to be just the trick to make them fly the coop. 

And don’t let your eyes fool you. The bird you see hanging upside down from the tower isn’t real. No turkey vultures were harmed in the staging of this exodus attempt.

“When I did it in Oxford, it was a real (stuffed) buzzard,” Hemann says. “But these are fakes. That’s what you do. You hang ‘em upside down, and it works.”

Apparently, these vultures are not your Jungle Book variety birds – bumbling bit characters at a loss for what to do next, who to bother or where to go.

“It’s an ominous sign, seeing your buddies hanging dead next to you,” Hemann says. “They’re gone … it’s pretty instantaneous. When they’re hanging upside down, they’re like, this isn’t the place to be.”

Problem solved.

One response to “All along the water tower … project focused on bye bye, buzzards”

  1. Lina says:

    People are too entitled. Jeez!

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