SABA (THE BOTTOM) - The Public Entity Saba is cognizant of the challenges that owners of free-roaming goats face in the transition process of the goat control project, and will therefore provide additional forms of assistance to help goat owners remove and/or control their goats.
This additional assistance consists of a four-month extension of the first grace period, the availability of a meat-processing unit as well as chiller and freezer units, the investigation of possible markets to sell goat meat abroad, help with the shooting of goats and the recovery of carcasses, time off for civil servants to shoot their goats, the availability of ammunition, subsidized fencing and building materials for pens, subsidized veterinary care, assistance with animal food, and access to a goat-farming advisor.
An explanation on these additional forms of assistance was provided in a letter signed by Island Governor Jonathan Johnson that was delivered to the goat owners last week.
Initially, goat owners were granted a grace period of three months from October to December 2020 to remove their goats with the possibility to request an extension of another three months. The Public Entity Saba decided to grant goat owners an additional four-month extension, giving them extra time to remove their goats. The extended grace period runs from January 1 to April 30, 2021. Goat owners can also, under certain conditions, request an additional term of three months maximum at the end of the second grace period from April 30. With the two grace periods and the possibility to request an additional term, goat owners will have been given 10 months in total to remove their goats.
As already planned, the removal of goats will start in the Mt. Scenery National Park, and the areas of the waste management facility and Fort Bay Road. Several owners of free-roaming goats are also civil servants. The Public Entity Saba will grant these goat owners who are civil servants time off to remove their animals.
Processing, storing and selling of goat carcasses
To accommodate the butchering of goats during the goat control project and thereafter, the Public Entity Saba will make available a 20-ft meat-processing unit for goat owners. The unit has been purchased and should arrive this month. With this unit, goat owners can still butcher their goats in the traditional way, but now in a more efficient, controlled and hygienic manner. The meat-processing unit was customized in close consultation with the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) to ensure that goat carcasses processed in this unit can meet the legal requirements of preparing and trading food products in the Caribbean Netherlands.
To ensure there is adequate freezer storage capacity to store the goat carcasses during the goat control project, the Public Entity Saba will make a 20-ft chiller container and a 20-ft freezer container available to goat owners. The units have been purchased and should arrive this month with the meat-processing unit. They too were customized in close consultation with the NVWA. One of the limiting factors for goat owners to shoot more goats was lack of storage. These container units were purchased to address this problem. These units will also be used after the project has ended and animal husbandry has further developed for the butchering of different types of livestock.
Goat owners are responsible for the sale of their own goat meat. The Saba government will investigate for free-roaming goat owners whether the option of a viable market/avenue through which they can sell carcasses to neighboring islands is available.
Shooting of goats and carcass recovery
To assist goat owners with ammunition to shoot their goats, the Public Entity Saba purchased 3,750 rounds of ammunition in the Netherlands. The ammunition is available to the goat owners via the local reseller. The goat control project paid for the transportation to Saba.
During the grace period, goat owners can, under certain conditions, receive additional assistance from the invasive species specialists to shoot their goats. After the grace period and when no additional term has been requested or granted, the specialists will come to each zone to shoot the remaining goats. Goat owners can request specified days for access to these restricted zones to shoot, which will be accommodated where reasonable.
The Public Entity Saba will provide additional manpower, under certain conditions, to goat owners to help bring back the carcasses of the goats that they shoot during the grace period. Assistance to recover carcasses will only be extended to areas where the goat owners shoot and go themselves to recover carcasses and in areas which are deemed reasonably safe.
Goats in fences
The Public Entity Saba wants to ensure that goats are ultimately kept behind fences and will therefore also help goat owners to ensure that their animals are properly fenced, have water, food and shelter, and are given the necessary care. Subsidized fencing and other building materials will be made available to help the goat owners with the initial investment and start-up costs of fencing in their animals. Also, the goat owners can make use of subsidized veterinary care in case their animals get sick. The Public Entity Saba aims to assist with food for goats that are fenced in and is currently investigating ways in which this can be made possible for not only goat owners, but also other livestock owners. To improve their farms, animal husbandry techniques and business models, goat farmers can be given access to a goat farming advisor.
Within short, the public will receive another update, focusing on the planning of the goat control project and what can be expected going forward.