The kind of wildlife that people think of as a danger to cars is usually moose, elk or deer and not, say, vultures. Believe it or nor, vultures in Florida have a habit of picking away rubber parts, leading to vulture survival kits being handed out in that state.
Everglades park handing out vulture survival kits
Normally, people think of vultures are much of a threat since they typically feed on deceased critters. Usually, one is content to comment on how ugly they are or compare them to Congress or lawyers. Such comparisons, of course, are an affront to the vulture.
However, visitors to Everglades National Park, according to the Daily Mail, are finding the birds a right pest. For the past several years, turkey vultures at the park have been observed to descend on random vehicles in the parking lots and eat rubber components, such as windshield wipers and door and window seals. They’ll also go after vinyl such as convertible soft-tops, according to Weather.com.
The park has taken to handing out “vulture survival kits,” basically tarps and bungee cords, which park visitors can drape and secure over vehicles to keep the birds at bay.
Bird is the word
The problem with vultures eating rubber was a few years old as of 2010, according to a Palm Beach Post article from that year. The Everglades, according to Weather, are the birds’ nesting spot for the winter, as the migrate there from colder areas.
The vulture survival kits are one of a number of strategies the park has employed, with the idea behind the tarps being to adapt visitors to the vulture’s environment and safeguarding the vehicles without disrupting said carrion consumers. Other solutions have been advising visitors to yell at the creatures or squirt them with water bottles, but it only works for a little while.
Park rangers took to firing a cannon in 2011, according to the Tampa Bay Times, though only using a powder charge and not loading a projectile. If too many congregated in the parking lot, they’d fire the cannon and scare them off. Vultures killed by traffic have even been hung in the parking lot; though seemingly grisly and Medieval, it was supposed to ward them off but had mixed results.
Out of the blue
Wildlife experts have no idea why vultures are picking out rubber components. They don’t eat windshield wiper blades, vinyl roofs or window seals, but rather descend on random vehicles, pick off the parts they’re interested in and discard them.
They can do some damage too. Adam Gelber, a wildlife biologist, visited the park earlier this year and found his GMC Yukon, according to Weather, stripped bare of rubber as the seals of the windows, doors and sunroof, as well as the wiper blades, had been shredded. Adding insult to injury, the birds had covered his SUV with droppings. The birds run up an $1,850 tab, which luckily his insurance picked up.
If one were thinking about cruising to Everglades National Park in, say, a brand-new TC from Sandy Springs Scion in Atlanta, the vulture survival kits might come in handy.
Watch em in action
Tampa Bay Times: http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/article1145586.ece