Turkey buzzards invade West Philly neighborhood, squatting in vacant rowhouse

Turkey buzzards invade West Philly neighborhood, squatting in vacant rowhouse
Linda Tanner/Flickr

The city planned to demolish a vacant rowhouse after residents of a West Philadelphia block complained that it had been taken over by squatters they feared would carry off and eat their pets.

It’s unlikely even tiny dogs were in danger since turkey vultures are scavengers which feed almost exclusively on dead animals. But the buzzards have worn out their welcome, nevertheless.

A crumbling rowhouse on the 400 block of North 50th Street has become the home of a committee of turkey vultures ­– groups of them are called “committees” – causing nearby citizens to worry about their pets.

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“I’m scared the buzzards will try to scoop him up and make him dinner,” Christina Ali-Bey, who lives next door to the vacant home, told Fox29, talking about her teacup Yorkie, Rocco.

One woman pointed out the vacant home where the buzzards have taken up residence to CBS3. She said it had been vacant for more than a decade.

“It bothers me. I shouldn’t be afraid to come out of my front door,” Engrid Bullock said.”Yesterday, they tore up all of my trash.”

The Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections said the vacant rowhouse taken over by the buzzards was set to be demolished on Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has a number of policies on vultures and managing the damage they cause. Both types of buzzards, black vultures and turkey vultures, thrive in close proximity to people.

Not only can – and will – vultures invade homes, they can be destructive to buidlings by tearing at caulking, roof shingles, vent seals, rubber roof liners and pool covers.

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As a protected species, it is illegal to harm or kill turkey vultures. They can, however, be driven off with an effigy of a dead buzzard or turkey, which they apparently fear.

“I feel like I should be a protected breed also because the fact they come down that close to me frightens me,” Bullock said to CBS3.