KFBF Livestock Protection Depredation Sub-Permit Announcement
A message from Joe Cain, Director, Commodity Division with the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation:
Black vulture depredation on livestock has become a very serious issue in Kentucky. As you know, the black vulture, and turkey vulture, are protected under Federal law (The Migratory Bird Act), and international treaty (the Migratory Bird Treaty). Last year according to USDA APHIS Wildlife Services (WS), Kentucky livestock producers reported losses of 174 calves and 10 cows to black vulture depredation, up from 63 calves being reported killed the previous year. Up until now, the only legal option livestock producers had available to protect livestock from depredation was to apply for an individual black vulture depredation permit at the cost of $100, with a permit duration of one year.
Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation (KFBF) voting delegates previously approved policy concerning black vulture depredation and last year the KFBF Board of Directors made addressing the issue of black vulture depredation a National Priority Issue. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) and WS were at the 2014 KFBF Annual Meeting to address this serious issue, and USFWS also met with leaders during the 2015 Congressional Tour about the black vulture problem.
Kentucky’s Congressional delegation has been very active in pushing Federal agencies to address black vulture depredation, and hosted several meetings in Washington to seek ways we can legally protect livestock from black vulture depredation. Considerations included Federal legislation to delist vultures, regulation that would allow limited takes and modifying the depredation permit process. KFBF has been deeply involved in the entire process, talking regularly with USFWS and WS concerning the problems Kentucky producers are facing, and pushed for a solution that would be available to producers at no cost and allow them to legally protect their livestock from this predator.
We are making progress. Last week USFWS approved a statewide depredation permit for KFBF. As far as I am aware, KFBF is the only non-government entity that has been approved by USFWS for a statewide depredation permit. The statewide permit does not provide for unlimited taking of black vultures, but affords producers experiencing depredation the opportunity to apply for a Livestock Protection Depredation Sub-Permit that allows legal “takes” of black vultures that are attacking livestock.
The statewide depredation permit is limited to 350 total “takes” and will be administered by KFBF. The maximum number of takes a producer may be approved for is five (5). There is no cost to apply for the KFBF Livestock Protection Depredation Sub-Permit, but producers who have experienced extreme depredation and have large black vulture roosts nearby are encouraged to apply for an individual black vulture depredation permit with USFWS. The cost of an individual depredation permit is $100, but producers may be approved for a larger number of “takes” by USFWS.
Producers interested in applying for the free KFBF Livestock Protection Depredation Sub-Permit may do so by completing the attached application and returning a signed copy to me at Kentucky Farm Bureau, Attn: Joe Cain, P.O. Box 20700, Louisville, Kentucky 40250-0700.
Applicants agree to follow all rules and regulations required by USFWS in the original statewide depredation permit, including: use of non-lethal measures to try and deter black vulture depredation, use of shotguns and steel shot in the lethal “taking” of depredating black vultures, the reporting of “takes” on a monthly basis, and the use of black vulture carcasses as effigies in areas where depredation is occurring. Black vulture lethal “takes” are approved only in areas where livestock is threatened and depredation is occurring.
As mentioned earlier, KFBF was approved for 350 statewide “takes.” To facilitate as wide of a distribution of sub-permits as possible a maximum of five (5) “takes” will be approved per application. Only one application will be approved per livestock production farm, and all applications will be scored based on the information producers provide regarding past depredation history, proximity of black vulture roosts, number of livestock units on the farm and the general livestock density of the area based on the most recent Kentucky Agricultural Statistic Service numbers. Producers applying for the sub-permit that are approved will receive a signed approval listing the number of “takes” allowed, along with a copy of the KFBF statewide depredation permit.
Hopefully this is a first step in finding a solution to the black vulture problem. It is critical we administer this program completely under the rules and regulations required within the permit. Failure to follow those guidelines is a Federal offense, and violations could result in citations, fines or worse.
Interested producers are encouraged to submit their signed and completed application as soon as possible. We will make every effort to score applications and return approved permits just as quickly as possible. Once the approved 350 “takes” are distributed, KFBF will apply for an amended permit asking for additional “takes,” but that will not guarantee we will be approved for additional “takes.”
If anyone has questions, please contact me at (502) 495-7738 or (502) 303-3663.