LAKE OZARK, MO (KCTV) -- There's an unexpected menace terrorizing fishermen, farmers, and people living near Bagnell Dam.
Bill Badley has been fishing beneath the dam for most of his life. He's no stranger to fish stories. However, he and his friends have what sounds like a whopper of a story.
They said that this summer they've seen thousands of dollars worth of damage done to their vehicles parked in the lot near the boat ramps. The culprit? Vultures.
"They've been especially bad this summer," Badley said.
His friend, Alfred Chapman, has the video to prove it. He took shots of scratched paint, torn rubber sealing, and tattered windshield wipers.
"Look at what these dam buzzards have been doing to my truck!" he exclaimed in the video. He told KCTV5 the birds caused thousands of dollars worth of damage.
Badley's truck was damaged last summer. He said the birds tore out the sealing around his sunroof. They also scratched the paint on his hood. "I went to a car wash and thought someone was pouring a five gallon bucket on me," he said.
These are not your typical native turkey buzzards. Conservationists call them black vultures, an invasive species whose migratory pattern is shifting north.
Jim Braithwait, a wildlife damage specialist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, said he's been taking calls about them several times a week this year. It's a new problem for Missouri.
"I think a little bit of it is climate change," Braithwait said. "I think the numbers are growing and they're expanding their habitat and their range."
KCTV5's cameras observed their morning ritual. They start out roosting in electrical towers near the dam. As the sun comes up, they stretch their wings as they search for food. One of their favorite spots is the parking lot near the boat ramp, where they can usually find discarded fish remains or human food sources. They didn't seem bothered by humans, either.
"This is a perfect habitat for these birds," Braithwait said.
Braithwait said the birds will also attack small livestock, like a young calf. He's taken calls from farmers complaining about them pulling the eyes out of calves.
Other homeowners told KCTV5 the birds had ripped off the tops of RVs and the weather sealing around their homes’ windows.
Despite that, shooting the birds isn't an option. "They're actually protected under federal law," Braithwait said.
Conservationists are able to shoot problem birds with a special permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but even that might not be a good solution. "We probably won't be able to shoot our way out of this," Braithwait said. "There's going to have to be other tools or decisions made."
Badley ended up buying an older SUV to haul his boat in order to avoid further damage. He also places goose decoys on the hood of the car before he leaves it at the lake.
"I know it looks pretty stupid, but it seems to be working," he said. "They're going to have to do something, because they're such a nuisance."