U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Wildlife Society Bulletin 2023;47:e1440.



This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License & U.S. government work


Human‐wildlife interactions are present wherever both humans and wildlife are found. Interactions can be positive or negative for humans and can include impacts that range from damage to property, agriculture, health and human safety, to emotional effects. Livestock‐wildlife interactions form a major component of human‐wildlife conflicts with foci often centered on the implications of livestock predation by wildlife. While most vulture species are obligate scavengers, several species, including the American black vulture (Coragyps atratus), may attack weak or newborn livestock. Black vulture populations and distributions are expanding in the Midwestern U.S., and attacks create a novel problem for livestock producers. We used online and printed surveys to determine the experiences and perceived losses of producers in Indiana and Kentucky. Surveys were distributed March–July 2021. Losses to black vultures were reported by 22% of goat producers, 24% of sheep producers, 38% of cattle producers, and 44% of mixed‐livestock producers. The criteria used to determine a perceived predation event were presence of vultures on the carcass, followed by missing eyes or tongue, damage to the perineal area, reported visual observation of the kill, or presence of feathers around the carcass. Sixty‐two percent of livestock producers employed at least one mitigation technique. Common mitigation techniques included the removal of carcasses and afterbirth, followed by nonlethal harassment of vultures, modifying farm management practices, use of guard animals, lethal control, and use of effigies. With the exception of nonlethal harassment, all mitigation techniques were rated as being effective by the majority of respondents. Fifty‐three percent of respondents indicated a willingness to acquire a lethal control permit from the federal government, 70% from the state government, and 56% from the state Farm Bureau, assuming the permit was free. We found that perceived losses to black vultures generally did not exceed losses to other causes and varied widely with livestock species and age class. For cattle producers, mitigation employment and vulture sightings during the calving seasons best predicted reported predation by black vultures. For mixed livestock producers, vulture sightings during the birthing season and losses to causes other than black vultures best predicted producers reporting predation by black vultures. Our results quantify producer perceptions of conflict between livestock producers and black vultures in the Midwestern U.S. Our results can be used to develop strategies to address growing conflicts between black vultures and livestock producers.

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