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HomeNewsArchivesFINAL ANIMAL CONTROL PLAN OPEN TO COMMENT

FINAL ANIMAL CONTROL PLAN OPEN TO COMMENT

Oct. 2, 2001 – The public has until Oct. 17 to comment on the final draft environmental assessment for the V.I. National Park's plan to reduce its rat, cat and mongoose populations.
The National Park Service does not plan to completely eliminate those populations — which are not native to St. John — but expects to reduce them to manageable numbers. Currently, they pose problems for the park's natural resources and long-term management programs as well as to visitor health and safety, said Rafe Boulon, the park's chief of resources management.
Park Supt. John King said that although the park does not normally solicit public comment on final plans, he is asking for it this time to make sure the park has addressed the people's concerns.
Areas targeted include Hawksnest, Trunk, Cinnamon and Francis Bays as well as Annaberg Plantation. These are the areas within the park where the most human activity occurs.
The park began developing the management plan earlier this year. Residents had a chance to express their views during the first review period. Boulon said most concerns centered on the bureaucratic language in the plan and the fate of cats.
The plan was rewritten to make it more reader friendly, he said, and "Some people want to adopt the cats."
As the plan stands now, he said, cats will be trapped and attempts will be made to find them homes through the Animal Care Center of St. John. Traps will be checked every six hours or less to reduce stress for the animals.
Additionally, park officials plan to ask owners of domestic cats that frequent park areas to put tags on their animals. This will facilitate returning pet cats to their owners should they end up in a trap.
"We certainly don't want to catch people's personal cats," Boulon said.
Details of the tag distribution are not final.
The plan calls for reducing the animal habitat and food supply. Boulon said this includes making sure concession stands dispose of food properly and use animal-proof garbage cans. Residents who live in areas inside or near the park will be asked to do the same. Next, the park plans to reduce the numbers of the targeted animals. For rats and mongooses, this would be accomplished by baiting stations with diphacione, an anti-coagulant that causes the animals to die by internal bleeding.
"It was developed to be as humane as possible. They go to sleep and don't wake up," Boulon said. It works on mammals, not other creatures such as birds, he said.
Boulon said the stations where the bait is placed would not be accessible to larger animals. Because the animals would return to their burrows to die, larger predator animals would not have the opportunity to eat their carcasses.
After this final review period, Boulon said, the plan will go to the park's regional office in Atlanta for approval. Once that happens, reduction work by the Wildlife Service Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will begin.
After the numbers are reduced, the park staff plans to keep tabs on the populations. When they again exceed the limits, staff members will work to reduce them.
Copies of the plan may be viewed at public libraries, at the park's Visitor Center in Cruz Bay and at the Christiansted National Historic Site headquarters on St. Criox.
The full text of the plan is posted on the web sites for the National Park Service and the Friends of the V.I. National Park. At either site, scroll down to the second category, "Planning, Documents," and click on the listing "10/2/01 – Download final plan for sustained reduction of rats, cats and mongooses." The 81-page document requires Acrobat Reader to download; that software itself is available for downloading without charge.
Boulon also will supply hard copy versions. To request one, call him at 693-8950, ext. 224.
Comments on the plan should be made in writing to V.I. National Park Supt. John King, 130 Cruz Bay Creek, St. John VI 00830.

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Oct. 2, 2001 - The public has until Oct. 17 to comment on the final draft environmental assessment for the V.I. National Park's plan to reduce its rat, cat and mongoose populations.
The National Park Service does not plan to completely eliminate those populations -- which are not native to St. John -- but expects to reduce them to manageable numbers. Currently, they pose problems for the park's natural resources and long-term management programs as well as to visitor health and safety, said Rafe Boulon, the park's chief of resources management.
Park Supt. John King said that although the park does not normally solicit public comment on final plans, he is asking for it this time to make sure the park has addressed the people's concerns.
Areas targeted include Hawksnest, Trunk, Cinnamon and Francis Bays as well as Annaberg Plantation. These are the areas within the park where the most human activity occurs.
The park began developing the management plan earlier this year. Residents had a chance to express their views during the first review period. Boulon said most concerns centered on the bureaucratic language in the plan and the fate of cats.
The plan was rewritten to make it more reader friendly, he said, and "Some people want to adopt the cats."
As the plan stands now, he said, cats will be trapped and attempts will be made to find them homes through the Animal Care Center of St. John. Traps will be checked every six hours or less to reduce stress for the animals.
Additionally, park officials plan to ask owners of domestic cats that frequent park areas to put tags on their animals. This will facilitate returning pet cats to their owners should they end up in a trap.
"We certainly don't want to catch people's personal cats," Boulon said.
Details of the tag distribution are not final.
The plan calls for reducing the animal habitat and food supply. Boulon said this includes making sure concession stands dispose of food properly and use animal-proof garbage cans. Residents who live in areas inside or near the park will be asked to do the same. Next, the park plans to reduce the numbers of the targeted animals. For rats and mongooses, this would be accomplished by baiting stations with diphacione, an anti-coagulant that causes the animals to die by internal bleeding.
"It was developed to be as humane as possible. They go to sleep and don't wake up," Boulon said. It works on mammals, not other creatures such as birds, he said.
Boulon said the stations where the bait is placed would not be accessible to larger animals. Because the animals would return to their burrows to die, larger predator animals would not have the opportunity to eat their carcasses.
After this final review period, Boulon said, the plan will go to the park's regional office in Atlanta for approval. Once that happens, reduction work by the Wildlife Service Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will begin.
After the numbers are reduced, the park staff plans to keep tabs on the populations. When they again exceed the limits, staff members will work to reduce them.
Copies of the plan may be viewed at public libraries, at the park's Visitor Center in Cruz Bay and at the Christiansted National Historic Site headquarters on St. Criox.
The full text of the plan is posted on the web sites for the National Park Service and the Friends of the V.I. National Park. At either site, scroll down to the second category, "Planning, Documents," and click on the listing "10/2/01 - Download final plan for sustained reduction of rats, cats and mongooses." The 81-page document requires Acrobat Reader to download; that software itself is available for downloading without charge.
Boulon also will supply hard copy versions. To request one, call him at 693-8950, ext. 224.
Comments on the plan should be made in writing to V.I. National Park Supt. John King, 130 Cruz Bay Creek, St. John VI 00830.