DPNR Set To Tackle Territory’s Feral Chicken, Rooster Dilemma

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As the feral chicken population continues to explode across the territory, DPNR is trying to get a handle of the fowl problem as shown in this photo taken at Francis Bay in the V.I. National Park.

In response to the numerous complaints by residents throughout the territory in regards to the significant nuisance created by feral chickens inundating the community, Department of Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Bob Mathes, announced last week the administration’s control and eradication strategy.

“This effort will truly require not only a comprehensive multi-agency response but also a genuine public/private partnership throughout the territory in order to be a success,” Mathes said.

The control and eradication strategy will address not only feral chickens but all of the territory’s stray animals, including dogs, cats and horses, Mathes added.

DPNR will focus on zoning violations outside those zones designated for raising livestock. All fowl complaints from adjoining neighbors experiencing issues of non-confinement, odor and noise will be investigated and violations issued to property owners. Non-compliant offenders will be promptly prosecuted by the Attorney General’s office.

Mathes encouraged all individuals and businesses which are negatively impacted by the burgeoning feral chicken population to purchase traps or other capture devices to restrain the chickens.

An aggressive collection program will be implemented through the cooperative and continuous efforts of the Department of Agriculture, DPNR, and the Administrator’s Office.

Every capture device, including snares, nets and traps will be employed in this effort. The Department of Agricultures’ Veterinary Services Division will be responsible for receiving all captured animals from these traps.

The DOA, in accordance with Title 19, Chapter 66 and Title 14, Chapter 7 of the VI Code, will appoint officers as Animal Wardens in both districts to address this territory-wide issue.

The main responsibility of the animal warden will be animal control, which includes protecting the health and well-being of animals through prevention of abuse and neglect and promoting and educating the community on the issues of animal welfare.

The animal warden will be a trained peace officer, which will enable the DOA to increase enforcement of VI laws pertaining to animal health and welfare.  This includes impounding stray and feral animals, investigating cases of animal abuse, removing abused and neglected animals, investigating and controlling dangerous pets, livestock, and horses in the territory.

The public health will also benefit as it relates to the prevention of disease such as avian influenza and rabies, as well as the prevention of animal related vehicular accidents by enhancing the ability of DOA to remove stray horses and cattle from the roads.

To assist in this effort all concerned citizens, non-governmental agencies, small businesses and other interested stakeholders are encouraged to actively participate in this program.

“We envision the public and private sectors of our community working diligently and creatively together in order to rid our community of this blight, let’s hope the program results in a win-win situation with cleaner and quieter neighborhoods,” Mathes said.