BULL SHOALS — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is trying a new scare tactic for about 1,500 vultures that have taken up roost at Bull Shoals Dam.
Officials began hanging vulture "effigies" this week in hopes of discouraging the birds from getting too comfortable. The 10 effigies are made from corrugated plastic and resemble dead vultures.
Corps biologist Bruce Caldwell told The Baxter Bulletin that although vultures like to eat dead animals, they do not like to be around dead of their own kind.
Bull Shoals Dam Supervisor Steve Hernandez said that the vultures are primarily damaging the roof of the dam. He explained that the roof is made out of a type of rubber — EPDM — which has a texture the vultures seem to enjoy.
"They've caused significant damage and just in general are making a nasty mess," Hernandez said.
However, the vultures aren't eating the rubber. Hernandez said the birds are just pecking at the roof and depositing the pieces wherever they see fit.
The vultures have caused more than $120,000 in damage to the dam, Hernandez said.
The Corps opted for the effigies after their original plan — firing a propane cannon to scare the birds — failed to work. Officials say the birds circled after each cannon blast and eventually returned.
Information for this article was contributed by David Harten of Arkansas Online.