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In St. Paul, vultures are messing with the playground

In St. Paul, vultures are messing with the playground

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All visitors are welcome in St. Paul, except for turkey vultures.

For the last few nights, a member of the St. Paul Police Department has discharged noise makers in the city park, trying to get a flock of vultures to vamoose.

Droppings from the birds are making the playground equipment a less than pleasant sight.

St. Paul officials have received advice from Nebraska Game and Parks in trying to make the birds go away. The practice is called harassing.

“We’re going to keep doing it every night ’til they go away,” said Matt Helzer, St. Paul’s utilities superintendent.

Game and Parks is letting St. Paul use devices called Bird Bangers. Loaded with a shell, the device fires a blast similar to fireworks.

You can fire a shot that explodes in the air.

“Or you can do a screamer. It screams the whole way up, and it really scares them,” Helzer said.

Because the effort just began Tuesday night, it’s too early to tell how effective the Bird Bangers are.

“The other night we had to do it a couple times. They flew south out of town. Where they went, I don’t know,” Helzer said.

“These vultures have been here for several years. They’re getting more and more each year,” he said.

During the evenings, the birds perch on the railing on the St. Paul water tower. From ground level, it looks like they’re crowding out the ballplayer painted on the tower.

“But now this year they’re roosting in one of the trees in the park, and guess what’s happening?” Helzer said.

Souvenirs rain down from above.

“The kids can’t even use the playground equipment. It’s just too much — it’s everywhere,” Helzer said.

Some nights, up to 50 vultures perch in the trees.

At night, they hang out in the trees.

“At then at sunrise, they get up on the tower because they love to sunbathe,” he said. They spread their wings and warm up.

A St. Paul police officer heads out to scare the vultures away at 8 p.m.

The people of St. Paul don’t want to hurt the birds.

“We’re just trying to get them to go somewhere else,” Helzer said.

They haven’t resorted to banging pots and pans.

“No, not yet,” he said.

In cooperation with Game and Parks, St. Paul hung artificial bodies of two dead vultures — one in the tree and one on the water tower.

The vultures went away for a couple of months. But now they’re back, and they’ve gotten used to the effigies.

Roosting right next to a fake dead vulture doesn’t bother them at all anymore.

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