Pesky turkey vultures will be blasted with fire hoses again tonight in the western Iowa town of Atlantic, part of a three-night assault on the messy big birds. The Atlantic Fire Department began shooting a jet of water on the birds perched high atop a tree two-blocks south of the courthouse at around 8:40 P.M. Wednesday.
A few minutes later, all that remained was one of the large black-winged creatures and the sound of applause from the citizens who came out to watch. The crews on the fire truck proudly displayed a barrel jokingly marked "Buzzard B-Gone" to the cameras and spectators. Atlantic Fire Chief Mark McNees said he never expected to use all of his firefighting experience to battle a large bird that leaves a big mess.
"No, it was never our plan. This is a first. We’ll give it a shot and see if it does any good," McNees says. When asked if the plan to douse the vultures with water will continue to be effective, McNees didn’t sound too confident: "I think it’ll work on this tree but I don’t know where they’re going after this." He said while some of the birds moved on to other trees, he added, "At least we’re making the effort…we’ll see it works."
The decision to call in the firefighters was made last week by the Atlantic City Council in an attempt to rid at least one neighborhood of 40-to-60 federally protected birds that congregate on specific trees and leave behind damaging droppings on homes and cars. If the effort fails, the next step would be for a DNR specialist to kill two of the birds and hang them upside down in the tree, a practice reportedly frightens them even more than getting hosed.