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Vulture Populations Causing Problems In Populated Areas of Brazil, New Study Shows

Oct 22, 2015 02:04 PM EDT
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Vultures are causing a variety of problems in Manaus, Brazil, a new study has revealed. Vultures are not picky eaters – they'll gobble up animal carcasses and scraps of all kinds, which is an efficient survival skill that has allowed the birds to thrive. But that same survival instinct is pushing two different local raptor species, Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) and Black Vultures (Coragyps atratus), into conflict with humans in the region.

Turkey Vultures living in fragmented forests along the outskirts of Manaus within the vicinity of the airport have been responsible for 12 aircraft collisions between January 2011 and May 2013. Researchers suggest that removing animal carcasses or potential "perches," such as light fixtures from the airport grounds, could help. Meanwhile, the Black Vulture has become a major nuisance around open trash containers and Manaus' multiple street markets that are routinely littered with food waste, according to a news release.

To help manage potential human-vulture conflicts, researchers from Brazil's Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA) monitored population numbers, species variation and other environmental factors of 80 vulture sites scattered throughout the city and found that "Populations of Black and Turkey vultures continue to expand, and these species are increasingly in conflict with human activities. Each species displays an opportunistic, adaptable lifestyle compatible with urban environments," Michael Avery, a scientist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture who specializes in vulture management, said in the release.

He went on to say that "The findings of this study reflect differences between species in social and foraging behaviors, and they provide a foundation for developing species-specific management plans to reduce property damage and hazards to aircraft in Brazil and elsewhere in the range of the species."

The study's findings will be published in The Condor: Ornithological Applications.

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-Follow Samantha on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13

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