By Jamie Leary

LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4) – The City of Longmont is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to influence turkey vultures who are living in a neighborhood to find a home in a less populated area.

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“We want to proactively get on it before it gets worse. We’re hoping it’s not another summer like last summer, but there’s just no way of knowing. If any of us go away for a week and we’re not on it, these streets could be filled again,” said Longmont resident Jodi Halsey-Aiello.

Jodi and her husband Wayne Aiello said upwards of 40 birds, which migrate south for the fall, made their home in her tree last spring. There was so much fecal matter that she said neighbors would clean up on a daily basis.

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This year the birds are back and, on occasion, if the Aiellos try to scare them the birds vomit. It’s a defense mechanism the Aiellos have seen signs of.

“Should we deal with the poo and not the regurgitation? Because once we start startling them and scaring them …” said Jodi.

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She says she is pleased with the conversations the city has had surrounding solutions, but while they wait the Aiellos have had to come up with their own creative solutions to keep the birds from getting too comfortable.

“Who wants to take a chance if your dog or your kid touches it, or your pet eats it?” said Wayne.

The Aiellos have resorted to non-harmful ways to scare the giant birds. The city even helped Jodi hang effigies; fabric she stuffed to look like a dead vulture.

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“So when they’d see them as they’re coming in to land they’d be like, ‘Oh no, there’s one of me that’s dead hanging upside down. We’re not welcome here, fly away!'” she said.

It worked for a few days, but they caught on. This year she has counted at least 20 birds in her tree at once.

“We have tried pots and pans clackering, we’ve tried firecrackers, we’ve tried wooden planks slapping, we’ve tried helium balloons.” Jodi listed off all the things that hadn’t worked.

The one thing that does? Her husband’s Indiana Jones whip. He’s been practicing since he was a kid and when he breaks the sound barrier, the birds scatter.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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On Monday, the Aiellos were happy to report the birds hadn’t been around for a few days, but they knew they weren’t far.

Just around the block, another committee (as they’re referred to) was sitting comfortably in a tree. According to one neighbor, this is the second year they have returned.

“They just came back about a month ago. They’re there all day long,” said Lindsay Dekel.

Lindsay Dekel and CBS4’s Jamie Leary look up at the birds (credit: CBS)

Dekel pointed to an area she has deemed not safe to walk over or park under. It was covered in white droppings and carried a distinct smell. She says she and her husband, along with other neighbors, clean up there almost daily.

“We don’t park where we used to any more,” she said.

All of the neighbors seem to have a good attitude and admit the birds are fascinating. They haven’t met anyone who wants to harm them, although there is a debate on whether to do anything at all or just leave them alone.

The Aiellos believe those who don’t want them moved haven’t experienced the problem first-hand.

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It’s serious to Jodi. She’s worried about her own health, the health of her trees and damage to her home.

“They’re really actually very fascinating creatures, I mean, they’re like nature’s garbage men really, but to live with them congregating or pooping in your tree … it’s just a whole other serious situation that no one should have to deal with.”

City Council members are in the process of discussing an appropriate budget for mitigation. Since the birds are federally protected, any solution must take great care to consider their well-being. Once more progress is made, the issue will be brought before the city for a vote.

Jamie Leary

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