TOWANDA - This fall, scientists from Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and Towanda High School teachers and students tried to trap turkey vultures in Bradford County.
They planned to affix a satellite transmitter to each of the birds they caught so that the students could use the Internet to monitor the birds' whereabouts, said David Barber, a research biologist from Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.
To catch the birds, they put road kill inside box traps to try to lure the birds - which have wing spans up to six feet - into the traps.
At times, the turkey vultures would stand on the top of the traps, but so far, the team has not been able to trap one of the birds, said David Barber, a research biologist from Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
"They never went into the traps," he said. "It's very frustrating."
Next spring, though, the scientists from Hawk Mountain and students and teachers from Towanda High plan to try again to trap at least two of the turkey vultures in Bradford County, using a different type of trap, he said.
The traps used next spring will consist of a parachute cords staked to the ground, which have a number of nooses made out of fishing line attached to them, Barber said.
"If the bird puts its foot in the noose, and brings its foot up, the noose will tighten, he said.
The parachute cords will be placed next to animal carcasses, to lure the birds to the site.
The parachute cord traps have been successfully used in other locations, he said.
"We want people to know that we are still doing this project," Barber said. "We were not successful in trapping them this fall. But we will continue this spring."
The birds have migrated out of the area for the winter, he said.
In September, the traps were first placed in the area of a parking lot at Towanda High School, and were later placed on the roof of Towanda High School. They were also placed at the Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority's landfill in West Burlington Township.
There is a roost in the woods behind the high school where turkey vultures sleep at night, Barber said. Around nine or 10 in the morning, at least some of the birds would fly onto the school's roof to warm up, he said.
They would spread their wings out to expose themselves to the sun, he said.
"Eventually they would fly in the air (from the roof) and disperse," he said. "We don't know where they would (spend the rest of) the day. That's one of the things we'll find out when we put the transmitters on them," he said.
As part of the project, humans are present when the birds are trapped in order to minimize the time they spend in the traps, Barber said.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.