Subject: Re: Plague of Vultures Feeds on Farm Animals (very long) Date: Apr 22 18:17:39 1995 From: Burton Guttman - guttmanb at elwha.evergreen.edu
Tom Foote asks whether anyone has a follow-up to the story of "a large number of vultures on live prey." I passed along a thread of messages from Birdchat. Here's another series that appeared later, including one from Tom himself.
Forwarded messages ___________________ >From macklins at UMICH.EDU Thu Apr 13 18:31:59 1995 Date: Sun, 9 Apr 1995 12:12:03 -0400 From: Macklin Smith <macklins at UMICH.EDU> Reply to: "National Birding Hotline Cooperative (Chat Line)" <BIRDCHAT at listserv.Arizona.EDU> To: Multiple recipients of list BIRDCHAT <BIRDCHAT at LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU> Subject: Re: Black (and Turkey) Vultures and livestock
My first thought would be "just another sensationalist THE BIRDS sort of story," but while staying with our beef-cattle raising friends in W.Va. recently I noted the following. The cattle got fairly freaked, invariably, by nearby TV's in flight, even by seeing their shadows, and my friends said this was normal, especially during calving season (which this was). They had certainly never seen vultures go after a calf, and wondered why this fear of vultures would exist. We speculated idly about genetically programmed fears, Lammergeiers, eagles, and so on. On several occasions I observed TV's feeding on afterbirths--well away from cows--and the cows appeared indifferent to this. The cows also would consign their particular calves to what I called "day care centers," especially in sinkholes, with one cow watching over the group. The cows would also command their calves to lie perfectly still in a sheltered spot (for example, next to a hay bale), as deer do their fawns. A stilled newborn calf can look dead--did look dead, even to our cattlegrowing friends--so I wonder if the vultures might get the same idea? Still, we never saw a vulture approach a stilled calf; nor have our friends seen this. So it sounds like the situation in Virginia is unusual if not fictional. Even so, some of the bovine and vulturine (a word?) behaviors that we saw might dovetail with the news story.
Macklin Smith University of Michigan macklins at umich.edu
>From Peter.D.Hunt at DARTMOUTH.EDU Thu Apr 13 18:32:09 1995 Date: Sun, 9 Apr 1995 12:07:49 EDT From: "Peter D. Hunt" <Peter.D.Hunt at DARTMOUTH.EDU> Reply to: "National Birding Hotline Cooperative (Chat Line)" <BIRDCHAT at listserv.Arizona.EDU> To: Multiple recipients of list BIRDCHAT <BIRDCHAT at LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU> Subject: Re: Black Vultures and livestock
I haven't heard of such behavior on the part of any New World Vulture, and would certainly be interested in finding out more about the Virginia situation. >From the article, however, it is not clear that the species involved is Black Vulture, give the mention of "V" shaped wings, etc. Such behavior on the part of Turkey Vultures, of course, would be just as bizarre.
Anyway, as to the question of potentially increased populations of vultures, there may be a couple of factors at work. For one thing, there may well be more dead wildlife around then we think there is. In many parts of the east, populations of everthing from squirrels to moose are increasing, due in large part (moose maybe being an exception) to human alterations of the environment (loss of predators, feeding, habitat modification). I wouldn't be surprized if there is a lot more mortality in these populations than is indicated by the frequency of road kills. Second, how about landfills? These are supposedly becoming more "sanitary" these days, but could increased vulture populations represent some sort of lag time from the not-so-distant days of open dumps? Finally, and the reasons behind this are far from understood, both species of vulture are expanding there ranges north. TVs used to be a rare beast in northern New England, but are now fairly regular right up to the Canadian border and downright common in some areas. Thus the higher numbers in more southerly regions may represent concentrations of migrating or wintering birds, which will gradually leave as spring progresses.
Peter Hunt Hanover, NH warbler at dartmouth.edu
>From footet at elwha.evergreen.edu Thu Apr 13 18:33:37 1995 Date: Sun, 9 Apr 1995 20:32:09 -0700 (PDT) From: Tom Foote <footet at elwha.evergreen.edu> To: Burt guttman <guttmanb at elwha.evergreen.edu> Subject: Buzzards Everywhere! (fwd)
Here's a message Michael Price sent me you might find interesting. This has just got to be a big scam and I hope that request to the Virginia biders is heeded and someone straightens this out.
Tom ---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Sun, 09 Apr 95 15:35:02 -0800 From: Michael Price <Michael_Price at mindlink.bc.ca> To: footet at elwha.evergreen.edu Subject: Buzzards Everywhere!
>This story really looks like some kind of urban legend. Anybody ever >hear of this behavior in vultures before? >Tom Foote
This sounds like an urban legend to me, too, but there may be some new learned behavior here as well. A lot of scavengers, ravens come to mind, will take advantage of afterbirths, etc., and ravens have figured out the next step in the process, which is, if the placentae are so good, why not kill the young, too? Reputedly, magpies and ravens have learned to blind and kill sheep by pecking at the eyes of the adults.
It may be that the story is accurate, and these birds are actually killing calves, but what I'd wonder is *where are the mothers*? Why *aren't* they defending their young? A cow will not usually defend an obviously-weak calf. How many of these calves are actually born healthy? There are some other factors. First, there are more TUVU. There seems to be a general increase in TUVU with increase in paved roads, therefore higher speeds, therefore more roadkill. Here in BC, that's definitely been the case: TUVU used to be confined to the Okanagan Valley and southern Cariboo district, and the Gulf Islands in the extreme SW of the province, all dry to semi-arid, but now they're heading into the center of the province, expanding into precisely those areas which are paving their roads.
More TUVU but the same food resources during migration or even less food due to habitat destruction may be a factor here.
Has there been a collapse of some of their other food sources due to natural calamity, or habitat destruction in the area? And haven't these farmers heard of *dogs*? And why aren't these marauding TUVU hitting other sites on their migratory path; are there similar instances of staging flocks behaving like this anywhere else on their migration paths?
If the story is true, and as callous as this suggestion may sound, why not get the local knacker to donate or sell cheap slaughterhouse horses to the local conservation org. to attract the TUVU *away* from the birthing fields? This works here with Trumpeter Swans which come here for the winter and chew up farmers' winter planted crops pretty heavily and flatfoot the rest into the mud, which they then compact with their great weight. Not much grows after a few hundred of these "t'underin' great burds", as a Newfoundland friend of mine calls them, get through with a field. After sussing out the problem, various farmers' groups and a few gov't departments set up a program that involves distraction, diversion to designated feeding fields, compensation (who doesn't love that one?), setting specially-trained dogs on 'em to give them the roust, and so on. Program's worked for a few years now. If for swans, why not, suitably modified, for vultures?
I'm also reminded of the stories of Golden Eagles killing lambs and sheep that were circulated by farmers for years: turns out the eagles ignored lambs whose mothers actively defended but would scavenge stillborn lambs or kill lambs whose mothers did not defend, and that these lambs were in every case so sickly as to be good as dead anyway. Some farmers were misidentifying vultures, some deliberately because they just didn't like raptors, period, and what does accuracy and integrity have to do with it? A Texan eagle bounty hunter who did his work from airplanes set out to prove the hunters' thesis that Golden Eagles kill lambs by *staking out a lamb*; luckily this imbecile's cover was blown when he started bragging about his plan.
Could this story perhaps have been planted by those who just want something else to shoot and kill. Or planted to drive a wedge between farmers and conservationists? Before you say that that may be pretty paranoid, there is historical instance of it here in BC.
The spin doctors hired by the powerful forest companies here in BC is Burston, MacKellar, the big US public relations company that was hired by the viciously thuggish military regime in Argentina to work on their image, and such other reclamation projects: these guys specialise in dressing up scum to fool the rest of us into thinking they're just poor misunderstood folks, any one who's critical is a communist, etc. These guys are *very* good and completely untrammelled by moral considerations.
BM's advice was a) get the local city daily paper to fire a very effective columnist, nationally one of the best in the biz, who repeatedly proved incompetence, favoritism, and malfeasance in the forestry industry & provincial government's Ministry of Forests; the forest companies have *considerable* clout in this province, and they were able to lean on the paper to do just that; b) get the companies to set up and fund--at arm's length, naturally--"spontaneous" groups dedicated to "saving" forest jobs (at the same time as the very same companies were automating tens of thousands of jobs out of existence) and c) surreptitiously circulate as many stories as possible to alienate loggers and other small town-people from the conservationists by painting the latter as big-city cappuccino-slurping tree-hugging snobs who cared more about trees than working people dependent on the forest for an honest living, etc. I can tell you from doing bird surveys and working in the small towns and logging camps, that it worked, big time. Divide and conquer.
Of course, it may be nothing like that, but simple silly-season reporting a few months early. Why ascribe to malice what can be accounted for by simple gross stupidity? :-)
Michael Price Vancouver BC Canada michael_price at mindlink.bc.ca
>From UserBobPet at AOL.COM Thu Apr 13 18:33:48 1995 Date: Mon, 10 Apr 1995 00:43:15 -0400 From: Bob Pettit <UserBobPet at AOL.COM> Reply to: "National Birding Hotline Cooperative (Chat Line)" <BIRDCHAT at listserv.Arizona.EDU> To: Multiple recipients of list BIRDCHAT <BIRDCHAT at LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU> Subject: Vulture Aggression Debunked
Dear Chatters The "Washington Post" article on vultures "attacking" animals in RADFORD, VA, is a great example of bad journalism. The same kind of incident occurred in STAFFORD, VA in Feb. 1994. It was reported in the "Daily News-Record" in Harrisonburg VA (Monday, Feb. 21, 1994, p. 9). The same non-technical type persons are interviewed as either an eye-witness or as an authority in the field of livestock attacks.
People are entitled to their own opinion or point of view, but they are "not" entitled to their own factual information.
As a follow-up to the RADFORD affair, the "Washington Post" (April 5, 1994) had two short articles reviewing the circumstances of the supposed attacks.
Elizabeth Daniels wrote, "They [BV] sometimes peck at newborn farm animals, having been attracted by the afterbirth. They may sit on the rumps of adult animals, but not with intent to harm them. Probably they are waiting for discharge of "cow plops," which in freezing weather may be the only nonfrozen source of nourishment available, poor as it is."
Gary R. Graves, Curator of Birds at the National Museum of Natural History, wrote in the same issue of the "Post." "Vultures readily feed upon stillborn livestock and afterbirth, but do not possess the raptorial equipment to kill large, healthy animals." He also stated that, "There have been no credible reports of either species [of vulture] attacking children or adults." He also stressed that any "attacks by black vultures" "should be thoroughly documented in a reputable scientific journal." He concluded that, "Children, livestock and family cats have more to fear from misinformed reporters that they do from hungry vultures."
VOS it's time to educate the VA public about vultures. The suggestion of leaving stillborns in a different section of the farm had merit. Let's do a study and tie a knot in this thread.
Bob Pettit Monroe County Community College 1555 So. Raisinville Road Monroe, MI 48161 313-242-7300 Ext. 256 313-242-9711 fax UserBobPet at aol.com
23393 Meadows Ave. Flat Rock, MI 48134 313-379-4558
>From BENEDICT at VAX.CS.HSCSYR.EDU Thu Apr 13 18:34:13 1995 Date: Mon, 10 Apr 1995 09:24:42 -0500 From: BENEDICT at VAX.CS.HSCSYR.EDU Reply to: "National Birding Hotline Cooperative (Chat Line)" <BIRDCHAT at listserv.Arizona.EDU> To: Multiple recipients of list BIRDCHAT <BIRDCHAT at LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU> Subject: Re: Black Vultures and livestock
In Australia similar claims had been made, a careful investigation revealed that essentially every newborn (sheep) eaten by predators was also stillborn, probably due to overcrowding of sheep on the range. The paper is in CSIRO Wildlife Bulletin, about 1965. I don't know what's going in Virginia, but that's one of the questions that needs to be investigated.
Paul DeBenedictis SUNY Health Science Center at Syracuse
>From staylor at URMC.ROCHESTER.EDU Thu Apr 13 18:34:46 1995 Date: Mon, 10 Apr 1995 10:27:00 EDT From: "Taylor, Stephen F. SMDDEAN" <staylor at URMC.ROCHESTER.EDU> Reply to: "National Birding Hotline Cooperative (Chat Line)" <BIRDCHAT at listserv.Arizona.EDU> To: Multiple recipients of list BIRDCHAT <BIRDCHAT at LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU> Subject: Re: Black Vultures and livestock
This is very scary!! It looks as though the reporter did no background checks to understand the habits of vultures. Not only that, it appears that no one went to check on the identification of the birds in question. This is terrible reporting and it bodes very badly on raptor protection.. We have a similar but very small movement here in upstate NY suggesting that protected raptors are now getting too numerous and causing "environmental balance problems"
[Repeat of my original message omitted here. BG]
>From bergstrm at GRITS.VALDOSTA.PEACHNET.EDU Thu Apr 13 18:35:41 1995 Date: Mon, 10 Apr 1995 11:59:44 -0400 From: Brad Bergstrom <bergstrm at GRITS.VALDOSTA.PEACHNET.EDU> Reply to: "National Birding Hotline Cooperative (Chat Line)" <BIRDCHAT at listserv.Arizona.EDU> To: Multiple recipients of list BIRDCHAT <BIRDCHAT at LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU> Subject: Re: Black Vultures and livestock
Seems we all agree that the article was grossly exaggerated if not totally fallacious. Beyond that, has anyone written a letter to the editor of The Washington Post, setting the record straight? Request: someone who's passionate and knowledgable on the subject, please do so, and then post it to BIRDCHAT.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Brad Bergstrom TEL 912-333-5759 Dept. of Biology FAX 912-333-7408 Valdosta State Univ. e-mail: bergstrm at grits.valdosta.peachnet.edu Valdosta, GA 31698-0015 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>From smn at MATH.UMD.EDU Thu Apr 13 18:37:13 1995 Date: Tue, 11 Apr 1995 00:41:48 -0400 From: "Steven M. Nunes" <smn at MATH.UMD.EDU> Reply to: "National Birding Hotline Cooperative (Chat Line)" <BIRDCHAT at listserv.Arizona.EDU> To: Multiple recipients of list BIRDCHAT <BIRDCHAT at LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU> Subject: vultures
The Washington Post, which serves the area under discussion, seems to have carried an extended version of the article posted by Burt. The article is at home, but I do recall an observation, which I do not see in the version quoted on Birdchat, to the effect that while Turkey Vultures will not prey upon live animals, Black Vultures will indeed do so.
Steven Nunes College Park, MD USA
>From guttmanb at ELWHA.EVERGREEN.EDU Thu Apr 13 18:37:39 1995 Date: Mon, 10 Apr 1995 23:17:08 -0700 From: Burton Guttman <guttmanb at ELWHA.EVERGREEN.EDU> Reply to: "National Birding Hotline Cooperative (Chat Line)" <BIRDCHAT at listserv.Arizona.EDU> To: Multiple recipients of list BIRDCHAT <BIRDCHAT at LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU> Subject: Re: vulture feeding habits
I don't want to stretch this thread out unnecessarily; the issues of accuracy in reporting, anti-environmentalism, and so on have been discussed, and I hope folks in the Virginia-D.C. area will look into the situation some more. But the question of Black Vulture feeding habits has been raised. All I know is what I read in my references:
Brown and Amadon, _Eagles, Hawks, and Falcons of the World_, p. 181, re Black Vulture: "It feeds on carrion, offal, and excrement of all sorts. Two or three hundred may gather at the carcase of a large animal, and thirty or forty at one time struggle for food. . . . Turkey Vultures give way before it. It also takes live helpless animals, such as young sea birds and herons, baby sea turtles just emerging from the sand, or turtle eggs dug out by a mammal, and even newly born piglets and calves, often snipping off the tails of the small animals. For the latter reason and because they are supposed to transport various diseases, they have been trapped and destroyed by the thousands in some areas, for example Texas. A flock has been seen to surround a skunk (_Mephitis_) and finally pounce and tear it to pieces."
Snyder and Snyder, _Birds of Prey_ (Voyageur Press, 1991), p. 31: "Black Vultures appear to be more willing than other New World vultures to take living prey, and they have been observed capturing small turtles and preying on eggs and young of colonial waterbirds on occasion. Records also exist of groups of Black Vultures successfully attacking and dismembering live skunks and opossums. In Guyana, we watched them clustering around cattle giving birth, apparently waiting for an opportunity to feed on afterbirths or on stillborn calves, or perhaps sometimes on live calves."
A few other references, including Bent, repeat these points, mention the dangers to young livestock, but no mention of the ganging up on live calves or sheep mentioned in the Washington Post article. Anyway, I hope those in a position to follow up on the reported situation will do so in the name of accuracy.
Burt Guttman guttmanb at elwha.evergreen.edu The Evergreen State College Voice: 360-866-6000, x. 6755 Olympia, WA 98505 FAX: 360-866-6794
>From whitehea at wsunix.wsu.edu Thu Apr 13 18:38:27 1995 Date: Tue, 11 Apr 95 07:24:59 -0700 From: Harriet Whitehead <whitehea at wsunix.wsu.edu> Reply to: tweeters at u.washington.edu To: Multiple recipients of list <tweeters at u.washington.edu> Subject: Re: Plague of Vultures Feeds on Farm Animals
Tom, The vulture stories do indeed seem too dire to be true, but there may be a kernel or two there. In Virginia, Black Vultures can be pretty mean characters and there are perenniel reports of peoples' small pets being attacked and of lawn furniture and the vynal roofs of cars being demolished (!) Turkey Vultures seem to have a less blemished character... As I recall there was a write-up in the Wall Street Journal about a year ago on the Black Vulture hazard in South Boston, Virginia.
[Tom's original message omitted here. BG]
>From faanesca at MAIL.FWS.GOV Thu Apr 13 18:42:54 1995 Date: Thu, 13 Apr 1995 09:10:18 MST From: Craig Faanes <faanesca at MAIL.FWS.GOV> Reply to: "National Birding Hotline Cooperative (Chat Line)" <BIRDCHAT at listserv.Arizona.EDU> To: Multiple recipients of list BIRDCHAT <BIRDCHAT at LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU> Subject: Black Vultures versus Calves in Virginia
A suggestion was made on Birdchat recently that someone should write a letter to the editor of the Washington Post "setting the record straight" on the black vulture's eating calves issue in Virginia. On Tuesday this week I sought permission, and it was given, to write such a letter for the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to send to the Post's editor.
I am working on the letter today. If anyone has *factual* information, observations, or data that I can use to make her point, please eMail to me ASAP. I am especially interested in anything I can throw in there about the musculature of the legs of vultures not being adapted for grasping (as in a hawk or owl) which would reduce the likelihood of vultures being able to grab and kill.
Thanks a lot for any quick assistance you can provide.
Craig Faanes U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service FaanesCA at mail.fws.gov
>From gpasq at DBINTELLECT.COM Thu Apr 13 18:43:10 1995 Date: Thu, 13 Apr 1995 09:27:04 -0600 From: Greg Pasquariello <gpasq at DBINTELLECT.COM> Reply to: "National Birding Hotline Cooperative (Chat Line)" <BIRDCHAT at listserv.Arizona.EDU> To: Multiple recipients of list BIRDCHAT <BIRDCHAT at LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU> Subject: Re: Black Vultures versus Calves in Virginia
I don't understand why nobody on BirdChat thinks black vultures eat calves. They do! I have seen it first hand in NJ. There were 20 or so black vultures sitting around a cow birthing a calf. The calf was still in the birthing process but was dead. I don't know if it was stillborn or killed by the vultures, but I believe that it would have been killed anyway, as the vultures were quite aggressive and were feeding on the eyes and softparts before the calf was fully delivered.
So, it's not necessarily an issue of the vultures not being strong enough. It's an issue of them taking advantage of a helpless creature.
Greg Pasquariello "...and he sailed off through night and day dbINTELLECT Technologies and in and out of weeks and almost over a year gpasq at dbintellect.com to where the wild things are" - M. Sendak
>From hampton at GORDY.UCDAVIS.EDU Thu Apr 13 18:43:47 1995 Date: Thu, 13 Apr 1995 09:21:07 -0700 From: Steve Hampton <hampton at GORDY.UCDAVIS.EDU> Reply to: "National Birding Hotline Cooperative (Chat Line)" <BIRDCHAT at listserv.Arizona.EDU> To: Multiple recipients of list BIRDCHAT <BIRDCHAT at LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU> Subject: Re: Black Vultures in VA
We've done some wonderful speculation on how the Post story of vultures killing many calves is surely false or, at best, exaggerated. However, there's nothing like a first-hand account. Have any BirdChatters or other birders been out to these farms in the last week to observe these vultures? What did they see?
STEVE HAMPTON [hampton at gordy.ucdavis.edu] Dept. of Agricultural Economics, UC Davis Davis, CA 95616 USA
>From maresmit at UNCCVM.UNCC.EDU Thu Apr 13 18:44:16 1995 Date: Thu, 13 Apr 1995 10:11:26 -0700 From: "Marek K. Smith" <maresmit at UNCCVM.UNCC.EDU> Reply to: "National Birding Hotline Cooperative (Chat Line)" <BIRDCHAT at listserv.Arizona.EDU> To: Multiple recipients of list BIRDCHAT <BIRDCHAT at LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU> Subject: more on Black Vutures and calves
I don't think it's a question of whether Black Vultures feed on stillborn calves, the afterbirth, or even weak newborn calves. I believe most (raptor researchers, Birdchatters, etc.) would agree that all of the above occur. The rumors that I at least would like to see addressed and dismissed are those concerning predation of full grown cows, dogs, cats, etc. The newspaper articles, both from this year and last, raise concerns for livestock, domestic pets, and even children. These are the issues that need to be put to rest by demonstrating that vultures lack the physical capabilities needed to capture, fatally injure, and fly off with 25 pound Cocker Spaniels.
----------------------------------------- Marek K. Smith University of North Carolina at Charlotte maresmit at unccvm.uncc.edu
>From quezon at OASYS.DT.NAVY.MIL Thu Apr 13 18:44:36 1995 Date: Thu, 13 Apr 1995 13:36:00 EDT From: Antonio Quezon <quezon at OASYS.DT.NAVY.MIL> Reply to: "National Birding Hotline Cooperative (Chat Line)" <BIRDCHAT at listserv.Arizona.EDU> To: Multiple recipients of list BIRDCHAT <BIRDCHAT at LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU> Subject: Re: Black Vultures versus Calves in Virginia
Greg Pasquariello <gpasq at DBINTELLECT.COM> Thu Apr 13, 9:27am -0600: =>I don't understand why nobody on BirdChat thinks black vultures =>eat calves. They do! I have seen it first hand in NJ. There were =>20 or so black vultures sitting around a cow birthing a calf. The calf =>was still in the birthing process but was dead. I don't know if it was =>stillborn or killed by the vultures, but I believe that it would have been =>killed anyway, as the vultures were quite aggressive and were feeding =>on the eyes and softparts before the calf was fully delivered. => =>So, it's not necessarily an issue of the vultures not being strong enough. =>It's an issue of them taking advantage of a helpless creature.
There are descriptions in the literature (Bent, Brown and Amadon) of Black Vultures preying on newborn calves, pigs, sheep, herons, and cormorants. I had a discussion the last time this subject arose on rec.birds about a year or so ago with a person who had done some vulture research as a graduate student in Florida and had witnessed Black Vultures attacking stillborn, birthing, and newborn livestock. There is a reliable source in south-west Virginia that has confirmed the vulture predations as described by the Washington Post.
A.J. (Tony) Quezon Carderock Division Naval Surface Warfare Center Code 2042 1419 Cuttermill Ct. Bethesda, MD 20084-5000 Herndon, VA 22070 Work: (301)227-3618 Home: (703)435-3965 e-mail: quezon at oasys.dt.navy.mil or ajq at mickey.dt.navy.mil
>From GAIL at UMDD.BITNET Thu Apr 13 18:44:51 1995 Date: Thu, 13 Apr 1995 14:25:58 -0400 From: Gail Mackiernan <GAIL at UMDD.BITNET> Reply to: "National Birding Hotline Cooperative (Chat Line)" <BIRDCHAT at listserv.Arizona.EDU> To: Multiple recipients of list BIRDCHAT <BIRDCHAT at LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU> Subject: Re: Black Vultures versus Calves in Virginia
What this all comes down to the need to exercise reasonable livestock management practices. My grandmother rasied sheep for a while in Massachusetts and lambing ewes were brought in in part to avoid problems with predators (mostly feral dogs, unfortunately) as well as to be there in case of birthing problems. Closer supervision, perhaps coupled with use of livestock- protecting dogs (not the same as herding dogs), would alleviate a lot of problems with potential predators, which in the area described might also include feral dogs or even coyotes, which are common in western VA in some areas. The Post article gave the impression that the only solution for the farmers was shooting the birds or complaining.