U.S. Reps. John Rose and Darren Soto Introduce the Bipartisan Black Vulture Relief Act to Provide Regulatory Relief for Farmers and Ranchers

Washington, DC—Today, U.S. Rep. John Rose (R-TN), a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, former Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, and local farmer, and Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL), a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, 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.”     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.  Background: According to a report compiled by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, black vulture populations have been increasing in the U.S. from 1996 to 2015 by an average of 4.77% per year. Although they are native to the eastern and southeastern portions of the U.S., they have been expanding their range northward and westward over the past several decades. Black vultures are not only scavengers but will sometimes eat live prey, including newborn calves, lambs, goat kids, and piglets. They will also attack/injure female adults during or after birth, when they are more vulnerable to attacks, to the point where farmers are left with no choice other than euthanasia. U.S. Representative John Rose is currently serving his third term representing Tennessee’s Sixth Congressional District and resides in Cookeville with his wife, Chelsea, and their two sons, Guy and Sam. The Sixth District includes Cannon, Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, Van Buren, and White counties as well as portions of Davidson, Scott, Warren, and Wilson counties. Representative Rose is an eighth-generation farmer, small business owner, and attorney, and currently serves on the House Financial Services Committee and House Agriculture Committee.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://johnrose.house.gov/media/press-releases/us-reps-john-rose-and-darren-soto-introduce-bipartisan-black-vulture-relief

While I understand the concerns of livestock farmers and ranchers in dealing with black vultures, I have serious reservations about the Black Vulture Relief Act. This bipartisan bill could potentially have negative consequences for migratory bird populations and the environment as a whole. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was put in place to protect migratory bird species, including black vultures, and we should not be so quick to circumvent it. Instead of allowing livestock producers to take black vultures without a permit, we should be focusing on developing more effective and humane methods to deter vultures from attacking livestock. This includes implementing non-lethal deterrents such as visual and noise-based repellents. I hope that our lawmakers will consider the potential long-term consequences of this bill before moving forward with it.

Thanks for expressing your opinion on this bill! As far as I am aware, this bill only targets Black Vultures. It seems to be a measured response to give farmers a relief from the real harm these birds are causing them and their livestock. Unfortunately “more humane” methods are simply not very effective and carry problems of their own. However, this is a great space to share any concerns with this bill you may have.