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Why Are N.J. Towns Hanging Vulture Carcasses Upside Down From Trees?


"Like something out of a Hitchcock movie."

Communities across New Jersey are not engaging in some strange ritual as they hang up vulture carcasses from trees -- they're trying to drive away flocks of damaging buzzards.

Like pirates hung at port, federal wildlife officials hoisted dead black vultures about 30 feet up into trees to ward off other birds.

Wildlife officials say it's a sure-fire way to stop buzzards from roosting in the area.

Here are some photos of the perhaps unsightly, but effective technique:

Residents of one Bridgewater neighborhood have counted at least 100 vultures roosting in a handful of pine trees nearby. They've been leaving behind foul-smelling and acidic droppings on lawns and roofs.

NJ.com has more about what seems to be an infestation of the large birds and the struggle to keep them away:

"I've been here for only two years and you'd see one or two or three," Mark Nathan of nearby Bittle Court said Monday morning. "But after the hurricane came, it's just been hundreds."

So the neighbors chipped in and hired the wildlife specialists at the United States Department of Agriculture to hang a dead vulture carcass, or "effigy" in a neighborhood tree.

The agency is one of the few that is legally allowed to handle live vultures or the carcasses, according to Nicole Rein of USDA Wildlife Services.

"The birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act," Rein said. "To posses any type of vulture carcass or even to handle a live bird, you have to have both a state and federal permit from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the N.J. Fish & Wildlife Division."

Rein explained that she hangs the vulture in an "unnatural position" by its feet with its wings spread out.

Vulture carcasses have been strung up in at least a half-dozen other New Jersey locations this winter.

Watch this report regarding the technique to stave off the other birds that the news anchor calls "like something out of a Hitchcock movie":

Here's a video from a resident showing the large birds on someone's roof:



The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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