Sam Graves-Vile, Nasty Creatures

June 17, 2024

Dear Friend,

Being a cattleman is more than a job; it's a way of life. It isn't always easy, particularly when you're pulling a calf at three o'clock in the morning or trying to warm up a newborn calf in your dining room because it's ten below zero.

What's easy doesn't always factor into it. You do what's right and you do what it takes to nurture those calves into steers and heifers that will go on to feed other families. When you lose one along the way, it hurts—and not just your pocketbook.

There are a lot of things that keep you up at night—the market, the weather, do I have enough hay to get through winter, and increasingly for cattle producers in North Missouri—was that a black vulture I saw perched up in a tree at the edge of the pasture?

Black vultures are vile, nasty creatures, and while they've been an ever-present threat to farmers in the Southeast, they're just now expanding into North Missouri. Unlike the red-headed turkey vultures you're probably used to seeing, black vultures don't just scavenge for food; they'll prey on newborn animals, including calves.

They come in hordes, and starting with the eyes—or any other soft spot they can find—they'll tear a newborn calf apart. A good cow will try to run them off, but often, there are too many to chase away. You might ask, "Well, can't you just shoot them?" But if you answer that question incorrectly, you might find yourself behind bars in federal prison.

You see, even though the Black Vulture isn't endangered or threatened in any way, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it a crime to kill one without a permit, even if you're watching it kill one of your newborn calves. I co-sponsored the Black Vulture Relief Act—which passed out of the Natural Resources Committee this week—because farmers and ranchers don't always have the time to jump through hoops to protect their herds from these pests.

It's a simple bill. All it says is that instead of applying for a permit before you can kill a black vulture that's trying to kill your calves, you can fill out a form afterward. That way, the bureaucrats get their numbers, and farmers and ranchers get to protect their herds. It's a win for everyone, but most of all, for newborn calves and the cattlemen that raise them.


Sam Graves