Mullin Leads Black Vulture Relief Act to Protect Farmers and Ranchers from Burdensome Federal Overreach

Today, U.S. Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) along with Sens. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), introduced the Black Vulture Relief Act to allow farmers and ranchers to protect their newborn livestock from black vultures without burdensome government interference. Mullin’s legislation provides regulatory relief by allowing farmers and ranchers to take black vultures anytime the birds threaten their livestock without a depredation permit.

Despite being listed as a species of lowest conservation concern, black vultures are still protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, making it illegal to take one without a depredation permit from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS). FWS currently operates a pilot program that allows state entities to register for a master permit and disburse sub-permits through individual states to ranchers. However, these sub-permits limit ranchers to 3-5 black vulture takes per year, even though attacks normally involve 20+ black vultures at a time.

Sens. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rick Scott (R-FL), Katie Britt (R-AL), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) joined Mullin, Tuberville, and Hyde-Smith in cosponsoring this legislation.

“Oklahoma ranchers should have the right to protect their livestock from nasty predators that threaten their livelihoods,” said Sen. Mullin. “Attacks from black vultures have become far too common and our livestock producers are suffering the consequences. As a rancher myself, I know firsthand the implications of the rapidly growing black vulture population and the negative effect this has on livestock production. Removing the requirement for a depredation permit will allow Oklahomans, including small and family-run ranches, the ability to do what is necessary to protect their livestock and reduce economic hardship. The current federal regulation is outdated, and it’s vital to the livelihood of ranchers across the country that we get this fixed.”

“Black vultures pose a huge threat to our livestock farmers and producers,” said Sen. Tuberville. “Government red tape is preventing farmers from protecting newborn calves and growing their herd. Our producers need a larger, more comprehensive approach to removing these predators. This bill will provide much needed relief and security to our nation’s cattlemen.”

“Livestock producers operate on thin margins,” said Sen. Hyde-Smith. “The struggle to make a profit is made harder by unnecessary regulations that limit their ability to protect their animals.  Our commonsense legislation would ease those restrictions to give producers a fighting chance to protect their livestock from the growing number of black vultures, which are truly vile predators.”


  • Black vultures are known to attack livestock, especially calves. These attacks are gruesome, often lasting hours, and cost ranchers an average of $2,000 per calf killed.
  • The black vulture population has increased by 468% since 1990.
  • This bill maintains protections for the species by: Requiring annual reporting of takes to ensure FWS receives accurate data to monitor the population and prohibiting the use of poison as a method of take.

Mullin’s legislation is endorsed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife & Conservation, American Sheep Association, Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers, 19 state cattlemen’s associations (OK, AL, CO, FL, GA, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MN, MS, MO, NC, OH, OR. SC, TN, and VA), and 6 state farm bureaus (OK, FL, PA, TN, MS, TX).

“It’s been estimated that black vultures are accountable for nearly 2.1 million cattle losses each year. These federally-protected birds tend to concentrate their attacks on newborn and defenseless calves and can often be seen waiting on nearby fence posts as a cow goes into labor. We’d like to thank Senators Mullin and Tuberville for their leadership on this issue and introducing legislation that will allow ranchers to protect their herd from black vulture predation,” said Justin Tupper, President, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association.

“Black vultures are particularly nasty predators, and their attacks can be financially devastating to small, family-owned cattle operations,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association 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.”

“I appreciate Senator Mullin for his leadership in addressing a very real threat to livestock production on the landscape posed by depredating black vultures killing calves, while at the same time working with those of us in the wildlife community that want to ensure that no species are wiped out and no non-target animals are accidentally impacted,” said J.D. Strong, Director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “This legislation threads that needle by providing needed relief to our impacted ranchers, yet provides adequate protections for all wildlife.”

“Black vultures attack livestock – especially young and vulnerable animals – which is a significant challenge for America’s farmers and ranchers,” said Sam Kieffer, American Farm Bureau Federation Vice President, Public Policy. “Senator Mullin’s legislation helps protect both livestock and migratory birds, like black vultures, which is why the American Farm Bureau strongly supports the Black Vulture Relief Act of 2023.”

“Many Oklahoma Farm Bureau members have long faced extreme challenges with black vultures and the devastating effects they can have on livestock herds,” said Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Rodd Moesel. “When these birds attack cattle and other livestock, ranchers are rendered helpless without first engaging in the lengthy process to obtain a depredation permit. We have heard countless stories from our Farm Bureau members about the threat vultures pose specifically to newborn livestock, and as caretakers of our herds and flocks, agriculturalists need appropriate measures to protect our animals. The Black Vulture Relief Act is a welcome sight for our members affected by these predatory birds, and we applaud Sen. Mullin for his work to help ranchers protect their livestock and their livelihoods.”

“Current laws and rules regarding black vultures are outdated and inhibiting to cattle ranchers who need to protect their livestock,” said Michael Kelsey, Executive VP of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association. “It is simple common sense to update those outdated provisions from time to time.  Senator Mullin, a cattle producer himself who knows the challenges of cattle ranching, has introduced a piece of legislation that would achieve this reasonable update and allow cattle ranchers the ability to protect their livestock in harmony with the environment and wildlife resources.  OCA greatly appreciates Senator Mullin’s leadership on this important issue!”