GALLIA COUNTY — There is a new flock is in town, and farmers should beware. Black vultures have increased in their population in Ohio, and locals are beginning to see more of the birds in the area.
Black vultures are similar in many ways to the turkey vulture, a migratory bird common to Gallia County. Physically, they are similar except for the coloration of the head, which is black on the black vulture. Both act as scavengers, feeding off trash. The most important difference between turkey and black vultures, is that blacks can become predatory and attack and kill living creatures.
According to Thomas Butler with the USDA, “Black vultures will occasionally attack livestock, mostly calves and lambs, during birth or immediately after when they are most vulnerable.” He did explain that once a newborn animal is able to get on its feet and dry out, it is most likely be safe from threat of vultures.
According to Butler, there are two main areas in which they become a problem for the public. If they roost near homes, they have damaged weather stripping around windows and torn off shingles from roofs.
“We don’t know why they do this, but I have had several reports of it. They try and pick at anything soft they can find,” said Butler.
The other problem with black vultures is predation of livestock. Farmers in Ohio have the opportunity to contact the USDA in order to obtain a permit to kill the birds.
Anyone is able to run off the creatures if they become a nuisance without harming the bird, at home or on the farm. For farmers wishing to do more to mitigate the damage, contact the USDA Wildlife Services State Office at 614-993-3444.
Black vultures are migratory birds, and are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; legislation that protects all migratory birds. Because of this, they cannot be killed if they are a nuisance or kill livestock. Historically they are southern creatures, preferring the warmer climates.
“They prefer to live on the edge of a forested area, being able to go out into an open area,” explained Butler. Their population in Ohio has increased gradually since the 70’s due to the increase in forestation and warm weathers. They are most common in river counties in southern Ohio.
To learn more about how to handle the birds as a nuisance, contact the USDA at 614-993-3444 or contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at www.fws.gov to learn more about permits.
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108.