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JWM: Should more lethal take be allowed for black vultures?

Cara J

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For decades, black vulture (Coragyps atratus) numbers have been on the rise in the United States. As their populations have grown and their range has expanded, conflicts with humans have grown, too. While famously scavengers, black vultures sometimes predate on livestock, creating conflicts with ranchers. Their predilection for chewing on vinyl seats hasn’t won them fans among convertible owners, either. As complaints about black vultures rise with their population numbers, wildlife managers wondered if the allowable take for these birds could be increased while still meeting requirements under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to sustain the species. “The goal is to minimize conflict with humans but still not damage the populations,” said TWS member Guthrie Zimmerman, population ecologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Migratory Bird Program and lead author on a paper on the subject published in the Journal of Wildlife Management. The team looked at analyses used to estimate allowable take in Virginia and expanded it to cover the vultures’ range throughout the eastern U.S. They found a range of estimated allowable take, down to just a few hundred individuals per year in the northern end of their range. Across the range, they estimated about 287,000 individuals could [...]

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