Lookin' at me? Minister of Environment and Planning Sylvan Richards said: "The government is very aware of the negative impacts that invasive species, such as feral chickens and pigeons, are having on Bermuda's economy, human health and environment." *File photo
Lookin' at me? Minister of Environment and Planning Sylvan Richards said: "The government is very aware of the negative impacts that invasive species, such as feral chickens and pigeons, are having on Bermuda's economy, human health and environment." *File photo

Government has announced it is planning to develop a comprehensive strategy to manage invasive species on the island.

The plans will be developed via public consultation and are likely to result in amended legislation.

Minister of Environment and Planning Sylvan Richards said: “The government is very aware of the negative impacts that invasive species, such as feral chickens and pigeons, are having on Bermuda's economy, human health and environment. So much so that this issue was highlighted in the recent Throne Speech and made a government priority.

 “However the government also recognizes that we have problems we must start working on today. Pest bird species such as chickens, pigeons and crows are causing significant damage to agricultural crops, gardens and protected habitats. They are also a nuisance and human health problem.” 

The Department of Conservation Services receives four to six requests a week for pest control service from across the island and over the last 18 months the department has reduced the population of feral chickens by 12,800 and pigeons by 3,500.

As part of the management plan for feral chickens, all aspects were investigated, including lifecycle and biology of the animal, different methodologies and their comparative effectiveness, a review of current legislation, resources needed, costs and implementation strategies. 

The management method could vary from site to site and could include the combined use of traps, nets, bait and/or shooting as required

The plan also examined the possibilities of feral chickens as a potential resource.

Drew Pettit, Director of Conservation Services said: “It would not be cost effective to try and create a market for feral chickens due to their low meat quality and having to compete with already established local producers. If it was that simple and profitable our farmers would already being doing it.”

However it is not illegal to trap to remove or consume a chicken, as long as it is done humanely and with minimal suffering to the animal.

A statement released said: “The recent amendment of the Firearms Act 1973 is not intended to be the “cure all” for managing pests; rather it is a means of enabling an existing tool to be used more efficiently. When considering the use of firearms the government must make public safety the priority. In light of this the numbers of licensed pest control shooters must be kept to a minimum and the amendment must not result in a proliferation or excuse to use firearms. The current pest control shooters are experienced not only in good firearm control and marksmanship but also in safe hunting practices, which is especially important in our increasingly urban environment.”

 

The Ministry of Environment and Planning invites those who need assistance to remove an infestation of feral birds to submit an online request athttp://www.conservation.bm/feral-bird-request-form/.