“With a vulture, it’s like someone came in with a skinning knife,” said Derek Lawson of Foxhollow Farm in Oldham County. “It’s all clean cuts. Usually, the hide’s completely cut off, whereas with a coyote or dogs, it’ll be torn and jagged.”
Farmers lose around $300,000 to $500,000 worth of livestock to these native vultures each year, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported. The animals are federally-protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
Lawson told the Louisville Courier-Journal there has been a significant increase of vultures in the area since 2009. He said his 2019 calving season began with him seeing six vultures pecking a calf to death.
Special federal $100 annual permits are required before a person can kill vultures. Without these, farmers face a fine of $15,000 or six months in jail.
But despite the nuisance of these birds, some farmers they are sometimes necessary for the ecosystem because they dispose cleanly of animal carcasses.
“You gotta have those lines,” Lawson said. “They are a necessary part of the ecosystem. Otherwise we’d just have dead stuff just laying around, slowly rotting over time. They kinda speed things up.”