Helping Illinois farmers manage black vultures

Helping Illinois farmers manage black vultures
Apr 08, 2024

The Farm Bureau has secured depredation permits through March 2025

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A farm organization has taken action to support its members in protecting their livestock from aerial predators.

The Illinois Farm Bureau has secured depredation permits for black vultures through March 31, 2025, from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Illinois’ black vulture population has increased significantly in recent years, particularly in the southern portion of the state. These birds often prey on young livestock, especially in open pastures, and can create major financial losses for farmers,” said Brian Duncan, president of the Illinois Farm Bureau.

Applicants will be allowed permits for up to three birds.

Black vultures are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and require a permit to destroy.

These aggressive vultures are known to attack livestock, including newborn calves and even cows giving birth.

Evidence of a black vulture attack can include plucking out eyes, disemboweling and eating the tongues of newborn or sick animals.

In 2023, for example, Yancy Paul, a rancher from Oklahoma, described an attack he witnessed.

“Before I could get to him, it was probably 40 or 50 of them just plucking at that newborn calf,” Paul said, KCUR reported. “They literally pick holes in them. I mean they just start with their eyes and in their backside and then just start pecking holes in their guts.”

Estimates suggest black vulture attacks “results in the losses of thousands to tens of thousands of cattle in the US annually,” Purdue University researchers say.

Illinois farmers must follow a two-step process to receive their permit.

They first must contact Tasha Bunting, the Illinois Farm Bureau’s director of commodity programs and food systems.

The second step is to consult with USDA Wildlife Services for consultation and ultimate permit approval.

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