Thursday, April 30, 2015

Federally protected black vultures attacking livestock, leaving behind gruesome remains

Aggressive, fearless black vultures are killing livestock on some farms, and farmers can't do much to fight back against the federally protected birds, Linda Ireland reports for The Laure County Herald News in Central Kentucky. Permits can be obtained to kill the birds, but the process is long, tedious and expensive, and by the time permits arrive, the birds have usually left for the winter. (Cornell Lab of Ornithology photo)

Black vultures typically feed on the weak and young, often attacking newborns, Ireland writes. Mark Tucker, who lost five calves in 2014 to black vultures, estimates that each calf was worth between $1,500 to $1,800.

"The financial loss of the livestock is aggravated by the gruesome nature of the attacks," Ireland writes. Brandon Boone, a conservation officer with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, detailed one farmer's account of seeing a vulture "standing on the back of a newborn calf . . . trying to peck its eyes out." Farmer Donald McDowell "said a group of about 15 vultures pecked out one of his cow’s eyes as she was giving birth . . . Gil Myers described watching a wake (flock) of black vultures track a blind calf through the woods."

Landowners say coyotes have caused problems, but that's a problem they can legally take care of, with no daily bag limits for coyotes, said the KFW website, Ireland writes. But black vultures, which have increased in range and population, are protected through the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. (Read more)

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