VANCE COUNTY, N.C. — Cattle farmers in Granville and Vance counties are having to fend off flocks of vultures. Experts said live farm animals are the vulture's latest prey.
"We've had problems with them over the years, but nothing like this year," agriculture extension agent Tommy Brooks said.
While vultures usually prey on dead and dying animals, officials said they have descended on cows giving birth and attacked their calves.
"They get up real high and see what's going on on the ground and zero in on it. Small animals don't stand a chance," Brooks said.
Experts are at a loss to explain why the vultures are attacking live farm animals, but Vance County farmer Amos Brewer said he thinks he knows the reason.
"My reason is they don't have anything to eat," he said.
Farmers cannot kill the vultures because they are protected under federal law. Brewer said he is not about to risk a fine of up to $15,000 and prison time for a few birds.
Farmers who have experienced attacks can apply for a permit that will allow them to shoot a limited number of vultures. Those permits are being handled through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services.