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NCBA Secures Senate Introduction of Legislation to Protect Producers from Black Vultures

WASHINGTON | This week, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) hailed the introduction of the Senate version of the Black Vulture Relief Act introduced by Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), a companion bill to legislation introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year that protects cattle producers from the devastating impacts of black vulture depredation. “Black vultures are particularly nasty predators, and their attacks can be financially devastating to small, family-owned cattle operations,” said NCBA Policy Division Chair Gene Copenhaver, a Virginia cattle producer. “The current system prevents cattle producers from effectively protecting their herd. Not only that, but black vultures are also an abundant species—millions-strong—that do not need federal protection. That’s why we urgently need legislation like the Black Vulture Relief Act. NCBA is extremely appreciative of Sen. Mullin’s work alongside Reps. John Rose (R-TN) and Darren Soto (D-FL) to stand up for the needs of cattle producers.” Earlier in the year, the House Natural Resources Water, Wildlife and Fisheries Subcommittee heard testimony from a Missouri cattle producer and NCBA member who had personally experienced attacks on his herd from black vultures. “Black vultures play a role in the ecosystem, and cattle producers have no desire to eradicate the species, but to continue managing them under such a restrictive system is ludicrous. The species is abundant across the continent, and no longer a conservation concern,” said cattle producer Charlie Besher, chairman of NCBA’s Property Rights and Environmental Management Committee. “These birds are extremely vicious predators, and their attacks on cattle are devastating, both emotionally and financially.” The Black Vulture Relief Act is bipartisan legislation that would allow cattle producers to take vultures without a permit, when there is an immediate need to protect their livestock from injury or death. After 50 years of federal protections, black vultures now number 190 million strong and are an abundant species across the country. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife currently issues black vulture depredation permits to states, which issue sub-permits to producers allowing take of only three birds per year. With black vultures often attacking in flocks as large as 50, the current permits are insufficient for allowing producers to protect their livestock. Black vulture attacks are particularly vicious with the birds usually targeting calves hours or even minutes after birth. "Simply put, current rules and laws are outdated regarding the black vulture. Oklahoma cattle ranchers need to be able to protect their livestock from predators and not be limited by these outdated regulations," said Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association Executive Vice President Michael Kelsey. "Thanks to Senator Mullin, a cattle producer himself who knows the challenges of cattle ranching, for introducing a piece of legislation that would achieve a reasonable update to federal law and allow cattle ranchers the ability to protect their livestock in harmony with the environment and wildlife resources." The Black Vulture Relief Act is also supported by numerous NCBA state affiliates.


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The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) has represented America's cattle producers since 1898, preserving the heritage and strength of the industry through education and public policy. As the largest association of cattle producers, NCBA works to create new markets and increase demand for beef. Efforts are made possible through membership contributions. To join, contact NCBA at 1-866-BEEF-USA or membership@beef.org.

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