A vulture invasion has residents of one New Jersey neighborhood anxiously gazing skyward and contemplating extreme measures to disperse the feathered scavengers haunting their town.
More than 100 vultures have been gathering in and circling above the Martinsville section of Bridgewater, frightening residents who have appealed to federal officials for help.
“They are very scary because I walk every day for health reasons, and sometimes when I walk out there they start circling,” Patti Beitz, a Martinsville resident, told NBC 4 New York. “So my neighbors say 'Don’t stand still too long.'”
The town's woodlands and rural setting are a great part of its appeal, but the emergence of the vultures in such great numbers is too much for many residents.
"They do not seem phased by my being even 10 feet away," said Jessica Guarino, Beitz's daughter. "All we can hear outside is feathers flapping constantly."
Guarino also said the creatures attacked and ate a live baby deer.
Laurie McKee told NJ.com
that her vet warned her not to let her dogs out of her site, and to keep them on a leash.
"There were so many circling when I walked my dog," McKee said. "It was creepy."
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, vultures can damage buildings by tearing window caulking and roof shingles, and can also ruin cars by scratching paint and pecking away at rubber seals and wipers.
Tree damage caused by Sandy, as well as an increase in the bird population, may have contributed to the alarming surge of the vultures, Nicole Rein, a biologist with the USDA's Wildlife Services, told NJ.com.
The best way to get rid of the vultures is to hang an effigy, or a dead vulture carcass, upside-down from a tree in the area with the wings spread, Rein said.
"The vulture effigy is a visual deterrent to the birds for that season but they may come back in future seasons," Rein told NJ.com.
The cost for an effigy permit is reportedly $400 to $500, and the neighborhood has already raised that amount.
“I canvassed the area and got money from neighbors,” Beitz told NBC 4 New York.
The effigies are reportedly scheduled to be hung on Monday. For Beitz and her neighbors, that can't come soon enough. Beitz said one of her neighbors was really on edge.
“He was so mad and so he threw a stone at it to get them to disperse, and in about 50 seconds a bunch of them came out from nowhere and started circling his house,” Beitz told NBC 4 New York.