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Why are vultures hanging from poles in Dutch Gap

Posted at 12:00 AM, Mar 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-12 11:29:21-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The mystery of the hanging vultures at the Dutch Gap boat landing was brought to CBS 6 by a viewer who found it strange to see several dead buzzards hanging from their feet, on wires, on the parking lot light poles there.

It's kind of creepy, he said.

Unfortunately, the signs posted by the wildlife division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture explaining the situation have disappeared.

Adding to the sense of mystery is the large colony of feral cats there, and swarms of live black vultures in the trees, circling the skies and crowding the vast power line towers by the massive Dominion Virginia Power generator there.

Vultures 2

This Dutch Gap area has been haunted by black vultures for years - hundreds of them. Scientists aren't sure why. It could be the warmer waters and boat traffic churning up the fish. It could be the food tossed out or left for the cats. Could the power plant somehow attract them?

It could just be their kind of roost. Other nearby riverside neighborhoods and business districts have been similarly plagued.

And the vultures have a taste for roof shingles and the rubberlike material in windshield wiper blades and windshield gaskets. They can make an awful mess. Some boaters took to covering their parked trucks with tarps.

But these raptors - basically just really ugly eagles with less-discerning tastes - are protected. And yet, the USDA can gut them and hang them to keep the big colony in the trees and on the power lines.

Does it work? Some fisherfolk and other landing regulars say not much. Some say yes, definitely.

Are they really dead vultures? Yes.

Is it a little creepy? Yes.

But not that mysterious.