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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Vulture-Cattle Interactions A Survey of Florida Ranchers

  • Author(s): Milleson, Michael P.
  • Shwiff, Stephanie A.
  • Avery, Michael L.
  • et al.

Effective management of vertebrate pest populations is enhanced by greater understanding of stakeholder-pest interactions as well as stakeholder attitudes toward control of the problem species. It has long been reported that black vultures are responsible for depredation of livestock, especially newborns. To gain a better understanding of this phenomenon, we conducted a survey of 374 Florida cattle ranchers, representing roughly 2% of the total number of Florida cattle ranches. A 3-page questionnaire was used to gather information of ranch characteristics and whether or not the ranchers had experienced vulture attacks. In cases where vulture attacks were reported, respondents were asked to quantify the value of property lost to vultures and preventative measures taken to reduce vulture predation. All respondents were asked a similar set of questions regarding coyotes as well as a series of questions concerning their attitudes toward vulture control and regulations. The survey revealed that 38% of respondents had experienced vulture predation that, on average, resulted in over $2,000 damage. Important predictors of vulture predation were ranch size and number of cattle. Attacks were recorded throughout the year, with the greatest number occurring during the winter months. By gaining better knowledge of stakeholder views and opinions, as well as the extent and characteristics of their depredation problems, we can more efficiently address the needs of livestock ranchers to reduce vulture damage.

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