Black vultures are a problem in Missouri and the state and federal governments are working on a multi-year study to help mediate conflicts. Residents are being asked to lookout for any black vultures that have been tagged to help understand their movement.

Black vultures might play an important role by eating dead animals on the side of the road, but they also prey on calves, vulnerable cows, and smaller farm animals.

Travis Guerrant, Missouri’s USDA APHIS Wildlife Services Director, said that they keep migrating northward.

“We have seen them up to, you know, the Missouri River. We’ve had reports of them further north, but we haven’t documented that. But I will say that they’re not nearly as prevalent up in central Missouri as they are in southern Missouri,” he said. “They’ve been dealing with them in southern Missouri for a long time, obviously because that’s where they’re coming from in their northward expansion.”

Black vultures are a federally protected species. So how can farmers and ranchers legally deal with them?

“You can get a permit from the Fish and Wildlife Service to lethally remove them if you have a situation where that’s warranted,” Guerrant said. “If you’re a livestock producer, you can get a permit through the Missouri Farm Bureau to remove them free of charge. You could have our staff come out and assist you to help mitigate issues and make a management plan of sorts for you and your farm.”

Guerrant cautions you from “taking matters into your own hands.”

“You’re going to have to learn to live with this species and learn how to manage your property, livestock, etc. so you can reduce the damage to your property,” he said. “They’re continuing to expand northward and they’re a species that are protected.”

Black vultures differ from turkey vultures in that they have a black head, whereas turkey vultures have red heads.

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