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OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Blake “Cowboy” Stephens, R-Tahlequah, is urging farmers and ranchers to report the number of black vultures killed on their property. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects black vultures, meaning Oklahomans can only take up to five birds a year with a sub-permit, but Stephens said this is a growing problem, and the current limits are no match for the rapidly expanding black vulture population.
“Our goal is to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to amend the limits in place for black vulture mitigation,” Stephens said. For this to be possible, producers must first submit an online request for a permit and then accurately report the number of birds they’ve killed as quickly as possible to justify the need for increased takes per year. I ask that producers are accurate in their reporting, as this will help us know exactly what we are up against and allow us to put programs in place to combat this growing problem.”
Stephens held an interim study last month to look into the harm caused by predatory birds, with a focus on the black vulture, which he said is the bird most destructive to property and the largest threat to livestock. Black vultures kill and injure livestock, especially calves and vulnerable mothers. They destroy property by tearing off shingles, ripping out wiring, and picking at parts of structures, vehicles and more. The birds’ highly acidic feces also damages paint and metal on farm equipment and buildings. As farmers and ranchers deal with the ongoing drought and high inflation, every animal lost or property damaged is detrimental and costly to agricultural operations.
“The experts who shared statistics with us during the interim study painted a pretty good picture of the damages these predatory birds are causing on Oklahoma farms and ranches,” Stephens said. “But what truly shows the seriousness of this situation are the horrible stories we are hearing from producers across the state. Once again, I encourage you to keep an accurate record of black vulture mortalities so the records and data can be used to show that we need to introduce methods like trapping and raise the take limit.”
Depredation permits can be obtained through the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry at ag.ok.gov/black-vulture-sub-permittee-application/.
For more information, contact:
Blake.Stephens@oksenate.gov or 405-521-5574.