Officials concerned about unsustainable practices during wildlife hunting season
Hunters displaying their catch of “wild meat”
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October 13, 2023

Officials concerned about unsustainable practices during wildlife hunting season

The Forestry Department has expressed concern about unsustainable practices occurring within wildlife hunting season in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) which could place species under threat.

The annual wildlife hunting season was declared open on October 1 and will close on December 31. The list of wildlife that could be hunted includes manicou, iguana, Pink Rhino Iguana, agouti, armadillo and scaly-Naped Pigeon.

Wildfire Supervisor with the Forestry Department, Glenroy Gaymes, said while all mammals and reptiles as well as certain species of birds are permitted to be hunted, they have recognized that some persons are hunting eggs, hunting some reptile species indiscriminately and also hunting mothers with offspring.

Wildfire Supervisor with the Forestry Department, Glenroy Gaymes

“From our research, an iguana will have up to 120 eggs, however all of the eggs are not fertilized at the same time so they may have 30 to 35 hatchlings. If you hunt the iguanas when the season is closed, you may find yourself in a situation where you may catch and devour a female that is laden with eggs. We are not killing one iguana when you do that, we are killing 100-plus in one meal.”

He also said the practice of hunting bird eggs, which occurs mainly in the Grenadine islands as well as in fishing communities on mainland such as Barrouallie and Layou, can jeopardize the “important birding areas” and also put the islands’ tourism product at a disadvantage.

He also highlighted a callous practice by some when it comes to manicou hunting. He said hunters should know and recognize that the usual practice for the species is to run when being hunted.

“When you see the behaviour of the manicou, you will know that something is not right. Anytime you see a manicou peeping and dodging it is because they are protecting their young.”

Gaymes said for the pink rhino iguana, although it is included on the wildlife hunting list, the potential for overhunting could lead to an endangering of the species.

“We have seen where this species is plundering downward. If we have an endemic species we have to protect it. We are asking the public, we are pleading with the public at this point, if you can desist from hunting this species we would be happy. Please consider that if you lose this species we are losing one of our biodiversity species found nowhere in the world.”

Gaymes added that some hunters have adopted the belief that an open hunting season means “we can take as much as we want and we can take any size” but he cautioned that the guidelines for hunting need to be followed to maintain the species.

“If we want hunting to be sustained, we are the ones that have to do it. We are pleading with the public and telling them to do the right thing.”

The rules set down for hunters state that manicou must be no less than one pound in weight and the size of iguana must be 14 inches from snout to vent. Penalties for failing to follow these rules would result in a $2,000 fine and or six months imprisonment.