Black Vultures: A Growing Threat to Newborn Oklahoma Livestock
By: Tess Maune, News9 Oklahoma City (OK)
January 5th 2022
On a warm fall day in rural McIntosh County and Cassie Wiedel is behind the wheel of her flatbed diesel truck headed to feed and check cattle. Wiedel runs her family’s ranch, with about 150 head of cattle, just outside the tiny town of Hitchita.
As she made the bumpy drive across the pasture, she rolled down the window and hollers a long, drawn-out “come on” – the cue for the cows to follow her to the feed troughs.
“It's just so rewarding,” Wiedel said “You treat these animals with respect. You feed them. You take care of them.”
The moment Wiedel stepped out of her truck, she stopped to look up to the sky where she saw several black vultures circling overhead. She called them predators and said they’re worse than a coyote.
“They're killing our animals,” said Wiedel.
Wiedel said black vultures have killed at least three of her newborn calves in the past few years, up to a $2,700 loss to her operation.
“It's terrible. It makes you feel like, like you didn't take care of them the way you were supposed to. But there's literally nothing you can do to prevent it,” said Wiedel. “I can't be everywhere.”
Scott Alls, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services Director for Oklahoma, said the birds migrated from South America. He said they’ve been in the parts of United States, like Texas, Florida, and Louisiana for decades, but have become more prevalent in Oklahoma in the past 20 years. He tells News On 6 black vultures are primarily in the eastern part of the state right now and said they've killed hundreds of calves over the years.
“I think a lot of people, when they'd find a dead calf and the vultures, they'd think something else happened to that calf, not realizing that the vultures may have actually done it themselves,” said Alls...
more, including video report [4:45 min.]