Vulture Damage Identification

Identification | Biology | Damage ID | Management | Resources

Damage to Structures 

Damage to property by vultures includes tearing and sometimes consuming asphalt shingles and rubber roofing material; rubber, vinyl, or leather upholstery from cars, boats, tractors, and other vehicles; latex window caulking; and plastic flowers at cemeteries. Most damage of this type is attributed to black vultures, although turkey vultures have been implicated in some situations.  

Damage to Livestock and Pets 

Vultures may attack young and vulnerable livestock, especially lambs and kids. Typical attacks are directed toward the eyes of the animal, followed by pecking at rectum, genitals, and nose. Black vultures may pluck the eyes and eat the tongues of newborn, down, or sick livestock. They also may disembowel young livestock, kill and feed on domestic fowl, and cause flesh wounds from bites. Attacks during birthing also have occurred. Vultures are attracted to afterbirth. 

Damage to Landscapes 

The volume of excrement and accompanying odor beneath roosts are the primary issues related to the impact of vultures on landscapes.  

Health and Safety Concerns 

Concentrations of vultures can be hazardous to aircraft, especially when sanitary landfills are situated in proximity to flight paths at airports. Turkey vultures may carry salmonella and other gram-negative bacteria in their stomachs. Vultures do not spread anthrax, hog cholera, or avian influenza. Public water supplies have been contaminated with fecal coliform bacteria as a result of droppings of vultures entering water towers, springs, and other sources. 

Nuisance Problems 

Nuisance problems involving vultures include unwanted congregations of individuals around areas of human activity, such as homes, schools, churches, and shopping areas. Congregations of vultures result in accumulations of feces on trees and lawns, residential and commercial buildings, electrical and radio transmission towers, and other structures, which can have unpleasant odors (Figure 5). Accumulated droppings on electrical transmission towers have resulted in arcing and localized power outages. 

Figure 5. Vultures roosting on a building. Photo by William Jackson.