by Lisa Tome
Brenda Larsen decided to skip the gym on Monday, June 29 in favor of communing with nature.
Larsen, of Conowingo, and her daughter, Rachel, 14, headed to the Conowingo Dam to walk the trail. Ninety minutes later, they returned to find something that you'd typically only see in a movie.
Their SUV, a Chevrolet Suburban, was being attacked by vultures. The birds had ripped the rubber from the windshield wipers and the sunroof. They also regurgitated numerous times all over the SUV and scratched the paint.
"I had a bottle of water and I scared them off but they are not afraid of people," Brenda Larsen said. "I am not going back there. This was so peculiar."
"They threw up all over the top of the car. It smelled gross," said Rachel Larsen.
Brenda's husband, Ed, called their insurance company.
He said that the "birds ate the rubber off the truck story" is unbelievable and it took him a while to convince his insurer that he wasn't making up the story.
The damage is estimated at about $1,500. That will likely be covered by the insurance company. The family will have to pay the deductible.
Keith Williams, the director at North Bay, and a Conowingo resident said that both turkey vultures and black vultures like to "peck at rubber". Williams also said that since the vultures are federally protected not much can be done. He explained that vultures perform a valuable service by eating dead animals.
"They can wreak havoc. But it's a balancing act. We need them. But they are a pain in the neck," said Williams. He has seen the vultures at Conowingo. He suggests people stick to parking in paved areas.
Charlie Kelso is a retired Department of Natural Resources Police Officer. He has seen the damage they can cause. "Turkey vultures and black vultures will rip vinyl tops from cars and boats. I've seen them do that. They can be pretty destructive. But there's so much dead stuff along the river and we can't do without them," said Kelso.
There are signs posted at the dam warning drivers about the vultures. Brenda Larsen said those signs can't be seen if other vehicles are parked in front of them. "I think they should do a better job with the signs," she said.
"I don't blame them (officials at Conowingo Dam) for the vultures. They should do a better job warning the public," said Ed Larsen.
Robert Judge, Sr. Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager for Power Communications at Exelon stated "We currently have sufficient signage informing visitors of the turkey vultures in the area. Exelon balances informing the public with signs and maintaining the natural state of the park," said Judge.