JEFFERSONVILLE, In. (WAVE) - People typically think of vultures as scavengers, circling after death has come. But for some in Southern Indiana they’ve become a nightmarish sign that it’s on the way.
Farmers said black vultures have been eating their cattle alive and they cant do much about it. But an Indiana member of the U.S. House of Representatives wants to help.
Representative Trey Hollingsworth, (R) IN 9th District, introduced legislation to change the bird kill permitting process earlier this month.
Hollingsworth said he's gained the support of other lawmakers facing the same problem, including some from Kentucky.
It’s an issue farmer Karen Foster told WAVE 3 News she was facing in June at the Kenmar Angus Farm in Jeffersonville.
"The vultures are actually pecking on the babies," Foster said.
Foster said five calves had been killed by black vultures - some during birth.
She said was the problem was she couldn't fight back unless she got permits to kill the birds because the species is protected.
Even then, she has to wait until her animals are attacked to protect them.
"A calf has to die in order for a farmer to get a permit," Hollingsworth said. "What we said is that seems backwards to us. We want farmers to be able to take proactive measures once they've seen a black vulture to protect their livestock."
Hollingsworth said he heard stories similar to Foster's and wanted to do something.
So, he introduced the Livestock Protection Act of 2019. The legislation would make it so farmers could get a federal permit to kill the birds as soon as they showed up, before livestock had been attacked.
"We've heard no opposition, thus far, even when we were drafting the language because we were so careful to include every possible stakeholder in the conversation," Hollingsworth said.
Hollingsworth has held round table discussions with lawmakers and town hall forums with farmers across Southern Indiana.
He added no migratory bird protections would be changed by the legislation, just the permitting process, which he hopes will keep a vital food source safe and give piece of mind to families facing terror from above.
Hollingsworth is hopeful congress will take up the Livestock Protection Act soon.
Farmers may still need to get state and local permits to kill black vultures.