Starting Tuesday night, the Graham Fire Department began aggressively addressing the buzzard problem in Graham using pyrotechnic blanks at the 800 block of Cherry street and the corner of Kentucky and Calaveras.

The daily operation started a few minutes before sundown. After receiving approval to deal with the problem from Brent Isom of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, City Manager Larry Fields began building his plan of attack.

The first step was to enlist a local organization to carry out the removal effort, and after careful consideration, the GFD proved the logical choice, mainly because a fire and rescue presence is already required for these kinds of operations.

According to fire chief Dennie Covey, the dense congregation of buzzards in Specific areas has been a problem for at least three years. Since the GFD agreed to take on the project, they have been undergoing tactical planning and research. Captain Greg Speck is one of the leaders of the effort.

He said that despite the mess created by the large groups of buzzards, caution must be exercised during the intimidation process. More specifically named turkey vultures, buzzards are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, meaning that not only is it a federal crime to kill a buzzard, it is also illegal to injure them.

“We looked at what we can do,” Speck said. “The buzzards are a protected species, so we can't kill them, and we can't use any means that will harm them. City Manager Larry Fields has looked around, and what he's found is a system that basically just harasses them.”

Read the entire story in this weekend's Graham Leader.