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Vultures at work

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Remember when Lou Holtz came to South Carolina and said our cars must be spotless inside as we apparently threw all our trash out the window. Well, litter is still an absolute eyesore in most parts of our state, but we can thank vultures for doing a lion's share of clean up dead animals.

Deer, which have been pushed into even urban areas due to loss of habitat, are the largest roadkill (other than the occasional wild hog), but dogs, cats, squirrels, and other unfortunate animals are killed night and day by automobiles. Fortunately, nature’s evolutionarily perfect scavengers, our vultures, are Johnny on the spot to pick those bones clean. With bald heads to avoid bacterial infection and an intestinal system impervious even to botulism, they spare us the smell and sight of these decaying animals.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.