Tricks Of The Trade: LEGAL Turkey Vulture Deterrents

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By James C. Elledge, IFMA Fellow, CFM, FMA, RPA, RIAQM
Published in the August 2007 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

Q Have you ever been asked about how to deal with buzzardslegally? The birds are federally protected; otherwise, we would have anobvious solution. I have two buildings being summarilydamaged by turkey vultures. On one building, they’re eating the caulkfrom the precast parapet joints. On the other, they appear to be eatingthe EPDM roof membrane.

I once dealt with a similarsituation in the past (birds eating caulk joints) by re-caulking theparapets in two stages: first with a standard (silicone based),flexible caulk that was then covered by a much thicker tape type caulkapplied over the softer, more vulnerable joint. I don’t remember what products were used, but it stopped the problem.

Name withheld

A Whether you have a venue of vultures feeding on your caulking or akettle of vultures circling your property, the value-added features ofthe turkey vulture are extremely negative. They are social birds,preferring to stay in large flocks and roost in dead trees, celltowers, rooftops, and porch coverings.

These birds are knownto attack building rooftops and caulking, as well as other exteriorsurfaces. It all translates into structural damage and costly repairs.

As a “bonus” to landlords, all vultures are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Underthe Act, taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds is unlawful.Therefore, your only options are humane pest control methods.

Inmy area, one of the most popular methods deployed by large shoppingcenters, grocery chains, etc. is the use of synthetic voice sounds ofbirds in distress and predators. It is interesting to see hundreds ofbirds fighting for roosting space in trees and power lines and not therooftops. This leads me to believe the alarms do work.

Other methods are available, such as wire, electric shock, or ultrasound. Some of the providers I found include:

Otheroptions also include a visual strobe light that may help to frightenthe birds away. These are especially useful in areas where soundpollution can be a problem (schools, hospitals, etc.).


Elledge,facility/office services manager for Dallas, TX-based Summit AllianceCompanies, is the recipient of the Distinguished Author Award from theInternational Facility Management Association (IFMA), is an IFMA Fellow, and isa member of TFM’sEditorial Advisory Board. All questions have been submitted via the “Ask TheExpert” portion of the magazine’s Web site. To pose a question, visit this link.

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