The Department of Fisheries, concerned about stray dogs creating problems for nesting turtles along Vigie beach, is collaborating with the National Conservation Authority (NCA) and the Castries Constituency Council (CCC) to deal with the the situation.
Fisheries Assistant Yvonne Edwin told St Lucia Times that the Fisheries Department has been receiving a number of reports of stray dogs in Vigie interfering with nesting turtles.
Edwin explained that this is the peak nesting period for the creatures.
“We have gotten reports of baby turtles that are making their way back to sea being interfered with by those dogs – turtles coming up to nest, and also those dogs have been digging up some of the nests and exposing the eggs,” the Fisheries official told St Lucia Times.
She said the reports are a source of concern because interfering with the sea turtles can affect the population of the reptiles.
Edwin disclosed that the Fisheries Department has been reminding Vigie residents who own dogs to ensure that the dogs do not wander onto the beach area.
She stated that the Fisheries Department has received confirmation that the stray dog problem will be addressed ‘at the soonest.’
(Dogs on Vigie beach)
“Hopefully by next week the authorities – again we are in discussion, it is just a matter of finalising it and getting the problem addressed by removing the dogs in the area,” Edwin told St Lucia Times.
Asked who would remove the stray dogs, her response was that she could not reveal that now.
However the Fisheries official said the Fisheries Department is in contact with the NCA and the CCC.
“All three agencies are attempting to address the situation and the confirmation I have is that by next week we will be able to remove the animals from the area,” Edwin asserted.
Vendors opposite the George F.L Charles airport at Vigie have long complained that stray dogs in the area have become a nuisance to them and visitors to the Vigie beach area.
The vendors have said that the animals sometimes attack people.
The Saint Lucia Animal Protection Society (SLAPS), which has declared in that past that it wants to be part of any solution to the stray dog problem, has also stated that the dogs cannot be blamed for hanging around because tourists feed them.
“Because it has a direct impact – because it is the fisheries resource that we protect and conserve, it became more important for us to deal with it now and collaborate with other agencies, but also the operators, the beach chair vendors, the food vendors in the area – the taxi drivers have all expressed growing concern because it is a frustrating thing that they have to deal with on a daily basis, Yvonne Edwin stated.
It is estimated that there are about 10 stray dogs involved.