Vultures damaging vehicles at Ohio state parks

The parking lot sign might catch some visitors to Ohio state parks off guard:

“Warning: Vultures May Cause Damage to Vehicles.”

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The vultures rip up the rubber molding that seals window glass on vehicles parked in lots at Caesar Creek Lake and other state parks.

“It’s kind of a new phenomena for us,” said Brett Beatty, a state wildlife management supervisor. “It’s still a bit of a mystery.”

The vultures are drawn to the parks by big trees where they can roost and dead fish they can eat, Beatty said.

Theories about motivation include the birds confusing the hot rubber smell with that of a dead animal or enjoying the texture as they gnaw, much like a dog with a bone.

The jury is still out, but Sam Romeo, a specialist at the Aullwood Audubon Center, said other studies show the vultures are drawn to a "chemical signature" that humans cannot notice, but they can, emitted when the rubber gets hot.

“The bottom line is we don’t really know,” Romeo said.

The parks have begun providing tarps and bungee cords to cover the window molding.

On Thursday, the kits were available in lots at the marina at Caesar Creek Lake and the park’s Furnas Shores boat ramp.

“We just put the boxes out this season. There was quite a bit of damage last season,” Nathan Steiner, manager of Caesar Creek Lake. “Anything we can do to spread the awareness.”

The problem also was reported at Rocky Fork State Park and “a couple other parks,” Steiner said.

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