CASTRIES, Saint Lucia–December 9th, 2020–Officials have met with livestock farmers to explain that effective December 14th cattle found on the roads will be impounded.
The Department of Agriculture is finalizing measures to address the long-standing issue of stray animals along main roads around the island.
Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Ezechiel Joseph, held a meeting with livestock farmers to discuss the management and prevention of stray animals. He announced the plans of the Government of Saint Lucia to fully enforce the Animals Act through the Department of Agriculture, to allow for animals roaming the roads to be impounded.
“We are going to impound animals if our farmers do not adhere to the management of their animals in a manner that will not create problems for the trafficking public,” the minister said.
Impounded animals will be kept at a secure location and upon payment of a fine, the livestock will be released.
The official press release does not explain exactly how the lost sheep will be arrested, transported, or where they will be held, but it appears that the government is prepared to devote considerable resources to the project in housing and feeding the offending animals, although the main objective is to warn livestock owners to keep their animals off the roads, where they may be a traffic hazard.
Minister Joseph urged the public to keep livestock secure.
“We are going to allow sometime to secure your cattle properly, and thereafter we shall implement penalties as the law pertains.”
The impounding of stray livestock by the Department of Agriculture will take effect from Dec. 14.
Stray animals do not seem to impact tourists too much in Saint Lucia. According the TripAdvisor “there are stray cats, dogs, chickens, and sometimes even a few stray goats.” The cats are apparently employed at some resorts to keep down the rat population.
However, the new move actually appears to be a softening of the laws which threaten to send owners of stray animals to prison for up to 2 years, which could possibly be a deterrent to reclaiming impounded animals.
In August 2019 the Division of Transport announced that it was “alarmed at the recent increase in reports of stray animals on the island`s roads, particularly along major roadways. These stray animals pose a serious road safety concern for all road users.
“Therefore, the Division of Transport wishes to advise members of the public that, in keeping with Section 26 of the Animals Act Cap. 3.11. , the owner of any animal found tied, wandering, straying, or lying in such a manner as to cause obstruction, danger, damage or injury to any user of the highway or a public place; commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $5,000 or to imprisonment for 2 years or both.
“Owners are further reminded that where an animal poses an immediate danger to road users, the animal(s) may be seized or where not practicable, shall be shot or immobilized by a duly authorized individual.” (Saint Lucia government press release of August 14, 2019.)