STATEMENT FOR THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY BY
THE DEPUTY PREMIER AND MINISTER FOR NATURAL RESOURCES AND LABOUR
DR. THE HONOURABLE KEDRICK D. PICKERING
ON STRATEGIC FERAL ANIMAL CONTROL MANAGEMENT PLAN
JUNE 23, 2016
Madame Speaker, there is a vexing problem facing the Territory with respect to the feral (wild and uncultured) animal population. Through the Department of Agriculture and the Ministry I have received numerous complaints from farmers and homeowners alike of the damage these animals cause. While the Department of Agriculture has always been engaged in efforts to reduce the numbers in the stray animal population, efforts are being ratcheted up to alleviate this problem through the implementation of a Strategic Feral Animal Control Management Plan. This plan provides the framework that involves actions to minimize the negative economic and environmental impacts. It also takes into consideration public health issues that can be caused by wild untamed diseased animals.
The Goals of this plan is four fold:
- To reduce the wild fowl (chicken) population in priority areas, using efficient and applicable methods of control, to limit the spread of infectious diseases and to reduce any negative impacts that they pose to the Territory;
- To reduce and eliminate the presence of roaming cattle;
- To eliminate the number of stray dogs, firstly with-in the priority area and then throughout the Territory; and
- To eliminate the wild cat population with-in the priority areas and then throughout the general Territory.
The estimated numbers of feral populations with-in the Territory are as follows:
- Dogs: 1500
- Cattle: 500 (owned but roaming)
- Fowls (Chickens): 5000 (approximately)
- Cats: 2000
Madame Speaker, there are a variety of methods, mechanical and chemical, that are available and that are currently being explored by the Department of Agriculture, as something needs to be done. Regarding chickens, they are looking at a custom made device in which the chickens are trapped. This consists of a trap made out of wire mesh with a swinging door, which closes down after the chickens enter. There is also the tried and true method that is more familiar to us which is to wait until the chickens are roosting for the night and then snatch them. Their diminished eye sight at night makes this a viable option. As it concerns the feral dog and cat populations, the Department continues to set baited traps in priority areas. These animals are properly disposed of when caught. As it relates to the cattle population, the Department continues to use casting techniques and corralling.
Madame Speaker, these strategies outlined above are complimented by surgical castration and spaying of dogs and cats targeting both owned and stray animals. These are already being done by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in partnership with the Department of Agriculture and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour. Just in the past few weeks we have captured twenty five (25) cats and eight (8) dogs in the areas of Beef Island, Greenland and Road Town; chickens have been removed from these areas at a rate of thirty (30) per day. Supplemental efforts are being made by community partners such as PAW BVI (Protecting Animal Welfare), which operates spaying and neutering programmes.
Madame Speaker, realising the long term and open ended nature of the problems created by the feral populations, this plan seeks the most pragmatic approach which is physical trapping as a means of reducing populations to manageable levels within a reasonable time-frame. We believe that if these efforts are consistently maintained, incremental decreases will result over time. I am calling on the citizenry of this Territory to assist in this effort. While it is difficult and in most cases, if at all, to identify the owners of the smaller animals such as the dogs, cats, and chickens, we know in almost every cases who the owners of the cattle. Therefore, I am asking that these owners act responsibly and contain their animals as they are creating unnecessary problems for their neighbours and for the Territory as a whole. If the issue is fencing material, please visit the Department of Agriculture and discuss your particular situation with the Chief Agricultural Officer. This is currently a very serious problem but with a little effort from all concerned we can and will reduce the feral population.
I thank you Madame Speaker.