Pestering vultures cost Orange County another $375,000

County officials install new electric Vulture deterrent system

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – At the end of this month, Orange County officials will finish a project they hope could solve a 23-year-old problem plaguing the Orange County Courthouse in Downtown Orlando.

According to county officials, since the new courthouse building opened in 1997, Turkey vultures have been landing on the roof, dropping their dead carcasses and pecking at the caulking costing the county thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“We don’t mind if they are up in the air that’s fine it’s when they land, that’s when the problems begin,” said project manager Jack Davis.

Davis showed News 6 the roof on the 24th floor of the courthouse to get a look at the latest installation of “electric wiring” to help deter the vultures.

The system involves a pair of thin wires about an inch apart that are positioned on a long black strip. The total length of the wires installed is approximately 6,500 linear ft. and can be found on the top four floors of the courthouse.

The $375,000 dollar project, funded through traffic ticket payments, was approved by the Board of County Commissioners at the end of 2017, and was installed over the summer, Davis said. County officials said the wiring prevents the birds from perching on the courthouse ledges. The ledges are equipped with electrified shock strips, about an inch apart pulsing an electrical current.

“Basically lots of volts, low amps, keeps the birds moving,” Davis said. “It doesn’t harm them in any way but it keeps them from messing up the building.”

Davis explained that the constant pecking of the caulking on the top floors have led to water intrusion, causing water damage all the way down to the 5th floor.

“We’ve had mold issues, drywall issues, flooring issues, the list goes on,” Davis said. “Water is not your friend inside the building.”

Davis told News 6 that the damage is especially bad during a hurricane. Because of that, county officials approved to replace the deteriorated system installed in early 2000.

And the reason for the $375,000 price tag? Liability.

" The material itself is not that much. You are paying for the liability of the installers on this one," Davis said pointing to the sides of the courthouse with no patios. “Basically you have to tie off and hang off the side of the building and get off the rooftop where there is nothing to stop you.”

After the initial installation over the summer, court staff noticed the vultures not perching on the ledges or the window sills of the courthouse, which is why back on December 3rd, the Board of County Commissioners approved another $13,703 dollars to add the new electric wiring on the windows as well. The project is expected to be completed by the end of January.

“We have high hopes,” Davis said.

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