JEFFERSON CITY, MO – In recent years, populations of black vultures have been on the increase in Missouri, particularly in the southern portion of the state. These birds often prey on young livestock, causing injury and sometimes death. Since black vultures are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, legal methods of removing them are limited.
Beginning today, Missouri Farm Bureau (MOFB) has obtained a statewide depredation permit for black vultures from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). MOFB has authority to issue sub-permits to livestock producers who are experiencing problems with black vultures. Livestock producers may apply to MOFB for a livestock protection depredation sub-permit allowing legal “takes” of black vultures that are attacking livestock like newborn calves and lambs.
Sub-permits will be issued to livestock operations only. Applications will be scored based on past livestock losses, number of livestock on the applicant’s farming operation, number of black vulture roosts and birds in the immediate vicinity and the county ranking of livestock with Missouri. A maximum of three “takes” may be issued to an approved applicant and will be determined by the application score. Applicants must agree to follow all rules and regulations required by USFWS in the MOFB statewide permit.
When announcing the sub-permit process, MOFB President Garrett Hawkins said, “In order to expedite the permitting process and reduce the costs for farmers and ranchers, Missouri Farm Bureau has agreed to serve in this role to reduce the problems with black vultures. Farm Bureaus in other states have served in this capacity, and we hope our efforts in Missouri are successful as well.”
Tom Cooper, DOI Region 3 Migratory Bird Program Coordinator for USFWS, said, “We are happy to work with Missouri Farm Bureau, in cooperation with USDA Wildlife Services and Missouri Department of Conservation to manage the black vulture conflict with livestock in the state. This program balances the need to manage black vultures causing damage along with the desire to maintain sustainable populations across their range.”
Travis Guerrant, Missouri and Iowa State Director of USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, said, “We are pleased that this opportunity has become available to Missouri producers to reduce conflicts between black vultures and livestock production. We stand ready to continue educating producers on techniques and tools to help alleviate predation issues concerning black vultures into the future.”
Missouri officials also praised the announcement of this permit. Sara Parker Pauley, director of the Missouri Department of Conservation, said, “I’m excited the USFWS has authorized Missouri to be a pilot state for their new black vulture depredation program and thankful to Missouri Farm Bureau for taking the lead on implementation here in Missouri. Black vulture numbers are on the rise, causing significant depredation issues to Missouri cattle ranchers, so this partnership is critical to solving these issues together because they impact both our conservation and agriculture resources.”
Interested livestock producers may request a sub-permit application by emailing Kelly Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the MOFB Marketing and Commodities Department at (573) 893-1416 and requesting an application. Applications must be fully completed, signed and dated by the livestock producer, and returned for consideration by the Marketing and Commodities Department.
Producers experiencing extensive depredation issues or having large black vulture roosts on their property are encouraged to reach out to USDA Wildlife Services to review the conflict and to develop a comprehensive management plan.