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Oklahoma doubles how many black vultures ranchers can kill or capture to protect livestock

Black vulture populations are expanding and causing problems for livestock producers across several states. "It kinda gets you in the gut," said Oklahoma livestock producer Yancy Paul. "You definitely don't like to lose anything, but when a bird flies down and kills a brand new baby calf, that's really not good."
Noppadol Paothong
Missouri Department Of Conservation
Black vultures are large black raptors with white patches on the underside of their wingtips.

The number of black vultures Oklahoma livestock producers can capture or kill with a sub-permit has increased from five to 10.

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry, working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and the U.S. Department, made the increase.

Black vultures have the critical role of cleaning up animal carcasses. As KOSU reported last summer, the population has expanded northward and their attacks on livestock like calves have become an issue for some producers.

Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the birds are protected and cannot legally be killed without federal permission.

The state Department of Agriculture is part of the federal Black Vulture Livestock Protection Program and has a statewide master depredation permit through the USDA and federal wildlife services. Producers can get a free sub-permit through the state to dispose of the birds attacking their livestock.

Applicants for the permit must follow certain rules and regulations, for instance, they must adopt non-lethal measures to prevent black vulture depredation.

In a press release, Karen Duncan, staff biologist at the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, said the raptor's attacks on livestock pose a significant challenge for the state’s producers and the permits aim to relieve that burden.

“The increased number of permits supports livestock producers with black vulture management,” Duncan said.

Producers who want to use different methods or take more than 10 black vultures need to get their own depredation permit, according to the press release.

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Anna Pope is a reporter covering agriculture and rural issues at KOSU as a corps member with Report for America.
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