After years of tolerating stray animals, particularly cows, and dealing with these animals roaming the streets disrupting traffic, and causing damage to properties the Agriculture Department has announced that a new pound is being built to hold the problematic animals.
The disclosure was made by Theodore James Director of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries during his appearance before the Standing Finance Committee (SFC). James’s comment was in response to a question from Deputy Speaker Hon. Neville Smith who suggested that “the department needed to invest in a pound to address the loose livestock that was roaming the street destroying person’s personal property.” Hon. Smith also reminded the Director that when the animals are caught they must be taken care of and fed.
In response the Director mentioned that the Ministry had already agreed to fund the building of the pound. Mr. James said that the department has agreed and confirmed on drawings and were now allocating funds for the building of the pound which should begin early in 2020.
The Director also stated that the Department has a budget for the purpose of feeding the animals and also developing a pasture to keep the animals fed.
For more than a decade the issue of rummaging animals has been an issue that especially plagued residents in the Fifth District in the area of Long Trench specifically. In 2017 as complained about persons being harassed by roaming cattle were made to the Ministry and then Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr. the Hon. Kedrick Pickering advised the residents to make a report to the Police and then take the cow owners to court.
At the time the comment was made Hon. Pickering was responding in the House of Assembly to questions posed by Opposition Member and Third District Representative, Hon. Julian Fraser. In that answer it was explained that there are legislation loopholes that are making it difficult for Government to adequately deal with the issue of stray cows that continues to affect residents.
It was 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, it was noted, was passed in the House of Assembly and gazetted in December 2004.
However, it was pointed out 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.
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 does not pay the prescribed fine, the animal is forfeited to the Crown. However, the then Minister noted that in practice, a few animals are actually claimed, but sometimes accurate owner identification is difficult; and this leaves the Department with 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 often-times 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 former Minister pointed out.
Therefore, the former Minister 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,” the then Minister announced.