Farmers warned about black vulture attacks

10:21 PM, Oct 18, 2011   |    comments
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Farmers warned about black vulture attacks

Joe Alexander's family has worked on their Lenior City farm for two centuries.

"You have to love it to do it," Joe smiled.

However Alexander said it has been harder to love his job as of late. The reason is up in the air, literally.

"You may see several buzzards circle around, circle in on something on the ground," Alexander added.

Recently, several young livestock have been killed in Middle Tennessee. Officials said the culprit is most likely a predator that is not normally known for such attacks in our area, the black vulture.

A farm in Giles County is the latest site of black vulture attacks, according to the Tennessee Cattlemen's Association. At least two baby calves have been killed by flocks of these predatory birds.

"They attack the eyes and other openings that sick calves or the down calves or the newborn calves might have," said UT Extension agent John Goddard.

The TCA has been working with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency to warn farmers. Humans cannot kill black vultures without a permit because they are federally protected.

"Farmers are just trying to make a living and they have a lot of other challenges," said Tennessee Cattlesmen's Association executive vice president Charles Hord. "It's unfortunate that there are some of these wildlife challenges that are popping up for them."

Now, Goddard believes what's happening in Middle Tennessee may spread here soon.

He has been warning dozens of Loudon County farmers about this problem. Experts believe the birds are having trouble finding food, so they're setting their sights on newborn livestock.

"Happens in West Tennessee, or Middle Tennessee- we usually get it as well. So I say we'll see the same thing, unfortunately," Goddard added.

Now, this is a concern farmer Joe Alexander may have to deal with.

"Is a real concern for ours because we need to watch our guard against it because it can very rapidly spread," said Alexander.

Experts tell 10News vultures normally look for dead animals to prey on. However, because of Tennessee's strange weather this year, more animals are living longer- shrinking the bird's food supply as a result.

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