BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — In recent years Illinois’ black vulture population has increased, creating significant disruptions for livestock farmers. The birds, which are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, are known to prey on livestock and birthing mothers, can cause significant injuries and even death.

To provide farmers a tool to better protect their livestock, Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) recently secured statewide black vulture depredation permits through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The permits are effective April 1 through March 31, 2025.

“Illinois’ black vulture population has increased significantly in recent years, particularly in the southern portion of the state. These birds often prey on young livestock, especially in open pastures, and can create major financial losses for farmers,” said IFB President Brian Duncan. “Securing these federal depredation permits streamlines the application process and reduces cost to the producer. It is our hope that this process helps farmers access the necessary tools as quickly as possible to protect their livestock.”

As migratory birds, black vultures are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, state laws and regulations, therefore, they can’t be killed or destroyed without a migratory bird depredation permit from USFWS and a Class B nuisance wildlife control permit from IDNR.

IFB continues to work with U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services to issue federal sub-permits to livestock farmers who are experiencing issues with black vultures on their land. IFB will also continue to work with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to secure the necessary state permits for farmers seeking approval.

Black vultures, which have a dark gray head and are aggressive, should not be confused with their larger, less aggressive and red-headed relative, the turkey vulture. Turkey vultures may be found throughout Illinois. Black vultures live in southern regions but are expanding their range further north, creating depredation problems for farmers.

“The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is continuing to cooperate with the Illinois Farm Bureau and USDA Wildlife Services to develop a simple process for livestock producers to receive federal and state permits for removing black vultures that can be harmful to their operations,” IDNR Director Natalie Phelps Finnie said. “I am glad we were able to continue the process created two years ago that provides relief to Illinois stockmen while still meeting our obligation to conserve protected species.”

IFB will issue sub-permits as a benefit to livestock farmers who are experiencing problems with black vultures and assist in securing IDNR’s required permit. The sub-permit is available to livestock farmers facing depredation of commercial livestock, which includes cattle, horses, sheep, goats and swine.

Approved applicants will be allowed a maximum of three birds, determined after consultation with USDA Wildlife Services. Following the consultation and approval, a state permit will also be provided by IDNR. Applicants must agree to follow all rules and regulations required by USFWS in the IFB statewide permit and the requirements of the IDNR permit. Illinois Farm Bureau, IDNR, USFWS and USDA Wildlife Services created this permit process in 2021 to assist livestock producers.

Interested livestock producers may request a sub-permit application by contacting Illinois Farm Bureau Associate Director of Commodity and Livestock, Tasha Bunting, at