Roughly 300 vultures have occupied a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) radio tower and made it their home. The tower is located in Kingsville, Texas about 100 miles east of the border town of Laredo.
According to a press release from the agency, the vultures have covered the tower and are surrounding the area in bodily fluids, including urine, feces, and vomit. Some employees have even been hit by the fluids when attempting to work near the tower. The vomit is especially dangerous because it can be corrosive and therefore seriously hurt workers and potentially damage the structural integrity of the tower.
A CBP spokesperson told Quartz:
“They will often defecate and vomit from their roost onto buildings below that house employees and equipment. There are anecdotes about birds dropping prey from a height of 300 feet, creating a terrifying and dangerous situation for those concerned.”
The agency is asking for help to remove the birds and install netting so they don’t return. Initially, there were discussions about exterminating the animals, but it is illegal to kill vultures under the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Violators can be fined up to $200,000 or face up to a year in federal prison.
A spokesperson for the CBP said:
“CBP’s Office of Information Technology has been working closely with several agencies including Fish and Wildlife, the USDA, environmental experts and the Texas State Historical Preservation Officer, to determine a good path toward a solution that will deter the vultures from roosting atop our towers while ensuring no harm to the birds. Research has shown that netting has proven to be a viable deterrent by restricting the birds from being able to initiate roost.”
The agency has kicked around the idea of setting off fireworks to scare the birds away but decided that this option would be too noisy. They have also considered hanging a fake vulture carcass which would supposedly scare the birds and prevent them from roosting on the tower. At this point, it is not entirely clear how they are going to get rid of the vultures, but the CBP is hoping to have the nets in place by August.