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Black vultures threaten calves in Missouri

Black vultures threaten calves in Missouri

By Blake Jackson

Cattle farmers in southern and central Missouri are facing a growing problem with black vultures attacking newborn calves and other vulnerable cattle. These birds, while scavengers, can become aggressive towards weak or injured animals.

For generations, farmers have raised cattle with a deep connection to their herds. The loss of a calf can be devastating, not just economically, but also emotionally. Farmers described the heartbreaking experience of finding a calf ripped apart by vultures and having to euthanize it.

To protect their herds, farmers are implementing various strategies recommended by the USDA Wildlife Services. These strategies focus on deterring vultures and minimizing opportunities for attacks.

  • Early calving season: Concentrating calving within a shorter timeframe allows for closer monitoring of birthing mothers and their calves.
  • Herd mentality: Keeping cattle grouped together during calving season provides a sense of security and can deter vultures from targeting isolated animals.
  • Pyrotechnics: Devices that create loud noises and flashes of light can scare away vultures and prevent them from approaching vulnerable calves.

Financial assistance is available to offset some of the losses. Farmers who lose cattle to vulture attacks can be reimbursed up to $200 for veterinary bills and a necropsy, provided they take the animal to a vet within 24 hours. However, this reimbursement has a cap and requires confirmation that the vulture attack caused the death.

Beyond the strategies mentioned above, farmers are also taking proactive measures:

  • Monitoring dead trees on their property, which can attract vultures.
  • Keeping a close eye on newborn calves.
  • Moving herds closer to human activity and structures.

Experts emphasize the importance of vigilance. By monitoring herd behavior, vulture activity, and taking preventative measures, farmers can minimize the risk of attacks and protect their livelihoods.

Photo Credit: gettyimages-ppampicture

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Categories: Missouri, Livestock

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