Black vultures and government red tape targeted by Sen. Mullin

NETN Species Spotlight - Turkey and Black Vultures (U.S. National Park Service)


Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Markwayne Mullin and two others in the Senate have their sights set on black vultures—-yes, turkey buzzards. And they have the support of a variety of agriculture groups.

Together with Sens. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, they have introduced the Black Vulture Relief Act to allow farmers and ranchers to protect their newborn livestock from black vultures without burdensome government interference. Mullin’s legislation provides regulatory relief by allowing farmers and ranchers to take black vultures anytime the birds threaten their livestock without a depredation permit.

Despite being listed as a species of lowest conservation concern, black vultures are still protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, making it illegal to take one without a depredation permit from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS). FWS currently operates a pilot program that allows state entities to register for a master permit and disburse sub-permits through individual states to ranchers. However, these sub-permits limit ranchers to 3-5 black vulture takes per year, even though attacks normally involve 20+ black vultures at a time.

“Oklahoma ranchers should have the right to protect their livestock from nasty predators that threaten their livelihoods,” said Sen. Mullin.

He said attacks from the black vultures are far too common and livestock producers are suffering the consequences.

“Removing the requirement for a depredation permit will allow Oklahomans, including small and family-run ranches, the ability to do what is necessary to protect their livestock and reduce economic hardship. The current federal regulation is outdated, and it’s vital to the livelihood of ranchers across the country that we get this fixed.”

“When these birds attack cattle and other livestock, ranchers are rendered helpless without first engaging in the lengthy process to obtain a depredation permit,” explained Rodd Moesel, President of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau.

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“Black vultures pose a huge threat to our livestock farmers and producers,” said Sen. Tuberville who charged that government red tape is preventing farmers from protecting new born calves.

Sen. Hyde-Smith called them “unnecessary regulations” that limit the ability of livestock producers to protect their animals.

“Our commonsense legislation would ease those restrictions to give producers a fighting chance to protect their livestock from the growing number of black vultures, which are truly vile predators.”

Mullin’s legislation is endorsed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife & Conservation, 19 state cattlemen’s associations (OK, AL, CO, FL, GA, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MN, MS, MO, NC, OH, OR. SC, TN, and VA), and 6 state farm bureaus (OK, FL, PA, TN, MS, TX).

Justin Tupper, President of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association said it’s estimated that black vultures are accountable for neaerly 2.1 million cattle losses a year.

“Black vultures are particularly nasty predators, and their attacks can be financially devastating to small, family-owned cattle operations,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Policy Division Chair Gene Copenhaver, a Virginia cattle producer.

J.D. Strong, Director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation said, “This legislation threads that needle by providing needed relief to our impacted ranchers, yet provides adequate protections for all wildlife.”

Sens. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rick Scott (R-FL), Katie Britt (R-AL), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) joined Mullin, Tuberville, and Hyde-Smith in cosponsoring this legislation.

Source: press release