U.S. Rep. John Rose, a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, former Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, and local farmer, and Rep. Darren Soto, a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, has introduced the Black Vulture Relief Act of 2023. The bipartisan bill allows livestock producers to take black vultures without a permit if they believe the vulture will cause death or injury to their livestock.
“Black vultures are a nuisance to livestock farmers and ranchers and pose a deadly threat to young calves and other animals. The current patchwork of regulations regarding the black vulture permit application process ties farmers in red tape,” said Rep. Rose the bill’s sponsor. “My bipartisan bill, the Black Vulture Relief Act, will give relief to the farmers and ranchers fed up with these scavengers killing their livestock and eating into their profits.”
“Our farmers and ranchers are facing many obstacles as they work to care for their livestock. By allowing them to take black vultures without a permit before they harm their livestock, we are improving the likelihood of their success,” said Rep. Soto the bill’s co-lead.
In 1916, the United States and Canada entered into a treaty aimed at protecting birds that migrate between the two countries, which led to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act being enacted in 1918 to implement this treaty in the United States. The law makes it illegal to take nearly 1,100 species of migratory birds—including black vultures—without a permit. The Secretary of Interior is allowed to permit the taking of black vultures; however, Rep. Rose has spoken to many farmers who describe the black vulture depredation permit application process as being too cumbersome, time-consuming, and costly.
“Black vultures attack livestock – especially young and vulnerable animals – which is a significant challenge for America’s farmers and ranchers,” said Sam Kieffer, American Farm Bureau Federation Vice President, Public Policy. “Rep. Rose’s legislation helps protect both livestock and migratory birds, like black vultures, which is why the American Farm Bureau strongly supports the Black Vulture Relief Act of 2023.”
“Thousands of cattle producers across the Southeast and Midwest lose livestock to black vulture depredation each year, and that’s on top of the pinch from severe inflation and extreme input costs. Just when many cow-calf producers are able to get ahead for the first time in years, these pressures are eating away at their profits. The added stress of livestock deaths and the fear of harsh federal penalties should not be another burden on the list,” said Director of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Government Affairs Sigrid Johannes. “We appreciate Congressman Rose’s leadership on this commonsense bill to give cattle producers the flexibility they need to protect their livestock.”
“Black Vulture attacks on livestock, particularly newborn calves, costs livestock producers thousands in lost revenues and continue to increase in frequency. These predators are overpopulated, and this bill is an important step in managing these losses,” said Charles Hord, Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President.
“We appreciate Congressman Rose filing this legislation in the hopes of alleviating the burden farmers are facing with growing black vulture populations and the resulting depredation of livestock around Tennessee,” said Tennessee Farm Bureau President Eric Mayberry. “It should be a fundamental right for farmers to protect their livestock when threatened by predatory actions of black vultures, and we believe this legislation is a step in the right direction.”
The bill is being supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Association, Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, Tennessee Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, and the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI).
Read the full text of the bill here.