Buzzards still vandalizing trucks at Joe Wheeler Dam boat ramp

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LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - Feather-headed vandals are still at it at a Joe Wheeler Dam boat ramp in Elgin, snacking on rubber lining and windshield wipers.

Buzzards have cost thousands of dollars in damage to trucks, and fishermen are fed up.

"They tear the rubber off of the windshields, they tear your wipers up," pointed out Ronnie Rogers, president of the Tennessee Valley Bass Club. "I know several people who have had problems so bad that they had to file with their insurance to get it fixed."

In August of 2013, WHNT News 19 talked with boaters who were dealing with the buzzards for the first time. One even said vultures did nearly $1,500 worth of damage to his truck alone.

Wildlife officials said their hands are tied, the birds are under federal protection. Tennessee Valley Authority officials said they can't help either. They just suggest keeping trash and fish guts out of sight.

"They're going to go fishing and the trade-off is are you going to go somewhere else, or deal with the birds," said Linous Jolly. "So, you're buying tarps, you're getting the bags and you do what you can to protect against them."

Plastic bags and tarps are the only weapon they have against the scavengers. Even then, there's no guarantee your car will be safe.

"We don't fish up here at all because of the birds," said Rogers. "We hold tournaments now in other places. I don't think anyone really comes here anymore."

We reached out to wildlife officials with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to see if a "catch and release" solution is possible.

Jud Easterwood is the district wildlife manager. He said, "Vultures are migratory species and would likely return to the area if "relocated".  Also, a permit through the US Fish and Wildlife Service is required when doing anything to vultures since they are federally protected and fall under federal jurisdiction.