USDA announces black vulture permit process in Ohio

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flock of black vultures
Black vultures spotted near the Fairfield County Extension office in Lancaster, Ohio. (Submitted photo)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that approved applicants — which will be determined after consultation with USDA’s Wildlife Services — will be allowed to remove up to five black vultures in Ohio. Applicants must agree to follow all rules and regulations required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources statewide permit.

The black vulture population has increased in Ohio in recent years. These birds, which have a dark gray head and can be aggressive, should not be confused with the larger, less aggressive, red-headed turkey vulture.

“Black vultures are an extremely aggressive predator,” said Roger High, director of livestock with Ohio Farm Bureau and executive director of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association. “They come into livestock farms of all types and attack the newborn animals and are very destructive.”

While black vultures can be detrimental to livestock producers, these birds remain important to conservation and agriculture resources by cleaning up animal carcasses from the ecosystem. As migratory birds, black vultures are federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, state laws and regulations, which means they can’t be killed or destroyed without a USFWS Migratory Bird Depredation permit.

As a way to streamline the permitting process, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has obtained a statewide depredation permit for black vultures from the USFWS. ODNR will work with USDA Wildlife Services to issue sub-permits to livestock producers who are experiencing issues with black vultures.

These sub-permits cover commercial livestock, including cattle, horses, sheep, goats and swine, and are free to livestock producers.

“As these birds continue to migrate further into Ohio, we are hearing more and more from our members about the devastation these birds are causing,” High said. “These improvements match much of Ohio Farm Bureau’s policy on black vultures. We have been involved in many conversations with these agencies about this issue, so we appreciate the efforts being made for farmers across Ohio.”

Interested livestock producers may request a sub-permit application by contacting Thomas Butler at thomas.p.butler@usda.gov.

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