Vultures flying in southern Indiana

The vultures are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. 

SCOTTSBURG, Ind. (WDRB) -- For years, farmers in Indiana have been powerless to deal with black vultures that regularly attack and kill cattle. 

But Monday, the Indiana Farm Bureau announced that permits are now available allowing legal takes of the vultures that go after young cattle. 

"They eat animals," said Dan Smith, who has a small farm in Scott County. "They'll pick their eyes out. Calves, when they're first born, they eat the back of their necks out while they're still alive."

The vultures typically target young livestock like newborn calves.

Black vultures have long been protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act that prevents farmers from killing the the birds. 

"I know what the fine is for killing them without the permit. It's $15,000." Smith said. "We just need some help to control these. I don't want to kill them all, but we need an option."

The newly available depredation permits are obtained through the Indiana Farm Bureau via the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“This program expedites the permit process and reduces costs for livestock producers, and we are happy to be able to offer this benefit exclusively to Indiana Farm Bureau members,” said Greg Slipher, an INFB livestock specialist. “Farm Bureaus in Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri have similar offerings, and we hope our efforts in Indiana will reduce conflicts between black vultures and livestock production.”

Only 100 permits will be issued per year, and they are only available to farm bureau members. The permits are issued based on a series of criteria: 

  • Applications will be based on number of livestock losses to black vulture depredation in 2020; number of livestock losses to black vulture depredation in 2015-2019; total head of cow or lambing units on property; number of black vulture roosts within 5 miles; approximate number of black vultures per roost within 5 miles of property
  • A maximum of five “takes” may be issued to an approved applicant and will be determined by the application score.

"They're taking our livelihood," Smith said. "Now, it's not going to break you, but every little bit counts."

Copyright 2021 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.