Persons being harassed by roaming cattle were advised by Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr. the Hon. Kedrick Pickering to make a report to the Police and then take the cow owners to court.
While responding in the House of Assembly to questions of Opposition Member and Third District Representative, Hon. Julian Fraser the Minister said that there are legislation loopholes that are making it difficult for Government to adequately deal with the issue of stray cows that continue to affect residents.
Hon. Pickering stated that the Pounds and Livestock Brands Act, 2004 provides for the implementation of a loose livestock program through the impounding of animals. This Act was passed in the House of Assembly and gazetted in December 2004.
However, the Minister for Natural Resources noted that even though the Act is in place, the Department is still restricted by what it can do legally because regulations are still required to adequately facilitate due process in the administration of the Act.
“For instance, gaps exist in animal and owner identification and the imposition of fees for impounded animals. Despite these constraints, the Department is carrying out the program as practicably as possible. Known cattle owners, for instance, are engaged and implored for their cooperation and voluntary compliance on a consistent basis. Priority areas like the Ridge Road, East End and Lambert Bay area are routinely patrolled by the loose livestock team and particularly when complaints are received,” Hon. Pickering explained.
It was noted that animals captured are impounded and time is afforded for claims to be made up to 21 days. If an animal’s owner does not claim it or pay the prescribed fine, the animal is forfeited to the Crown.
However, Hon. Pickering noted that in practice, a few animals are actually claimed, but sometimes accurate owner identification is difficult and this leaves the Department the animals that are not claimed.
The Act gives the Chief Agricultural Officer the discretion to sell the animal, slaughter and sell it as meat or dispose of it in any other manner that the Chief Agricultural Officer sees fit.
“Although slaughter is an option it is restricted because supermarkets can only absorb a limited quantity of meat at a time. Consequently, the department is oftentimes left with cattle which must be pastured and tended. In that respect, one of the major constraints for the Department is a critical lack of holding capacity or pasture space to cater for loose livestock that are impounded and have to be kept by the department for protracted periods,” the Minister pointed out.
Therefore, Dr. Pickering advised persons who are being pestered by roaming cows to seek assistance from the law: “Persons who find livestock straying onto the private property or in a public place also have the option of contacting the police for assistance. Owners that cause or allow their animals to stray are committing an offence, and once convicted are liable to be fined between $500 to $1,000 and to pay compensation ordered by the Magistrate for injury, loss or damage arising from the offence,” Minister Pickering announced.