Black vulture (Coragyps atratus) populations throughout the Eastern United States have been increasing rapidly and expanding their range over the past several decades. Such population increases could not occur unless there are resources such as food and breeding locations to support additional vultures. Black vultures primarily consume carrion but may also be predators. They breed in secluded locations such as hollows in tree trunks or rock crevices and in abandoned human structures such as houses, barns, and silos.
Black vultures also cause damage in multiple ways. They are a social species and congregate in groups of various sizes, with up to several hundred using one area. At large congregations, they can cause property damage by picking at synthetic materials such as rubber on cars and buildings and asphalt shingles on roofs. Additionally, accumulation of their acidic excrement can damage various structures. Black vultures cause agricultural damage when groups attack and kill livestock, including lambs, piglets and calves. Finally, flying vultures cause damage when they collide with aircraft. These types of damage vary both in monetary losses and human safety.
We are working with several organizations to study movements of Black Vultures in the Eastern United States. This work is centered in West Virginia where USDA Wildlife Services is assisting multiple organizations and municipalities with damage caused by vultures.