It's not hard to find a cattle producer who has had a problem with black vultures and the threats and damage they pose to the livestock.
The bipartisan Black Vulture Relief Act, led by Rep. John Rose (R-TN) and Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) has been introduced.
It would allow a cattle producer to take black vultures that pose a threat to livestock. It also institutes a report that producers submit annually detailing the number of vultures they took.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association announced they are welcoming the legislation.
“Across the country, cattle producers are coping with extreme input costs and the worst inflation rate in 40 years. Livestock deaths due to black vultures are a financial loss that no one can afford right now,” said NCBA Director of Government Affairs Sigrid Johannes. “Giving producers greater flexibility on black vulture management means one less financial burden to worry about. We appreciate Congressman Rose and Congressman Soto’s leadership and commonsense approach to controlling this abundant predator species.”
The bill would allow a cattle producer to “take” (capture, kill, disperse, or transport) black vultures that pose a risk to livestock. Additionally, the bill reduces permitting burdens and red tape by instituting a simple report that producers submit once per year detailing the number of black vultures they took. Streamlining the system and lifting the cap on number of black vultures that producers can take is a commonsense approach to managing a fully recovered, aggressive, predator species.
“Black vultures have developed into a lethal predator for newborn calves, costing Tennessee cattle producers thousands of dollars in lost revenue each year. We appreciate Congressman Rose’s bill as a significant tool to help control the over-population of these predators,” said Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association Executive Director Charles Hord.
Black vulture depredation rates have increased across the Southeast in recent years, surpassing 30 percent in some states like Florida.
“The Florida Cattlemen’s Association appreciates Congressman Soto's co-sponsorship of this commonsense bill,” said Jim Handley, executive vice president of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association. “The economic loss to Florida cattle ranchers from black vultures is significant every year, and we thank Congressman Soto for taking action to assist our industry with this legislation.”
Cattle producers have experienced firsthand the devastating effects of vulture depredation:
Danny Clark, Lawrenceburg, TN: “Lawrence County livestock producers have been experiencing issues with black vultures preying on newly born calves for some time. Economic loss in addition to the time and labor spent during calving season for these producers is devastating. Government approved permits…allowing producers to use lethal means to control these preying birds is also a challenge…I know this year these black vultures have been the cause of [death for] at least one calf and damage to one cow as well, along with others in previous years.”
Laura Wallace, Spencer, TN: “These buzzards have gotten four calves in one season, putting tremendous strain on my little 97-acre operation…The [price of] diesel, fertilizer, fencing, feed, 24D [herbicide] have all gone up.”
Mark Russell, DVM, Tullahoma, TN: “Last year I found one newborn dead [calf] with its eyes eaten out. This year I came up on over 30 vultures in the field behind my house.”
Jeff Russell, Kingston, TN: “During calving season…we have constant problems with vultures loitering in our pastures. I did lose one calf so far this year. When I found it there were 40-50 vultures in the pasture and in surrounding trees. Every time a cow gives birth the vultures are surrounding it and pestering the cow. We attempt to scare them off, but they have become more brazen and will return within minutes. The population appears to be out of balance. There are too many and the stress it is causing my cows is affecting their wellbeing and the safety of my newly born calves. Help is needed with this issue as it continues to get worse.”
A. T. Burchell, Columbia, TN: “I have a 200 head beef cattle operation in Columbia, Tennessee, and we have had a continual problem with black vultures attacking newly born calves.”