RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Bullets rained down beside a Rutherford county man as he was standing in his backyard. It turns out, a neighbor was firing shots to scare away vultures.
It happened Monday morning at daybreak when a swarm of vultures converged on top of the cell phone tower next to Tyler Moody’s home on Old Lebanon Road in Rutherford County.
Moody grabbed his .22 caliber rifle in hopes of scaring them away.
“I just fired warning shots up in the air,” he told News 2.
A nearby neighbor said he heard the gunshots before bullets started falling down beside him in his backyard.
“I had no intention of killing the vultures or shooting into anyone’s yard,” Moody explained.
The buzzards have been a problem for Moody. Some of his ducks have been killed and the eggs have been a gourmet meal for the birds.
“I had 20 plus ducks, and now I’m down to about 12,” he said.
Vultures are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Killing one could lead to prosecution, fines or even prison.
At least three of the birds were found dead, but Moody wasn’t charged.
“I didn’t know vultures were federally protected,” he told News 2. “I was just trying to protect my ducks.”
Workers repairing a cell phone tower nearby said the vultures have caused nearly $15,000 worth of damage. The company that owns the tower has put up noise makers, reflective spinners and even fake owls to try and scare the birds away.
News 2 spoke with Tom MacKenzie, the Southeast Regions spokesman for the US Fish and Wildlife Service out of Atlanta. He said permits are available for farmers or people having problems with black vultures.
To apply for a permit, call the Migratory Bird Permit Office at 404-679-7049 or visit www.fws.gov/southeast/birds/black-vulture.