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Poisoning rivers, starting bush fires can land you in jail

Poisoning rivers, starting bush fires can land you in jail


Officials of the Forestry Department are warning persons about the practices of poisoning rivers and starting bush fires, as they are illegal and can carry sentences of up to six months in prison.{{more}}

Forestry Officers, Bradford Latham, Law Compliance and Enforcement Officer and Fitzroy Springer of the Wild Life Management Unit spoke with Searchlight about the issues surrounding poisoning of rivers to catch fish and the deliberate lighting of bush as a hunting method.

According to Latham, persons use chemical substances such as chlorine, tobacco, and cement powder, among others, in order to poison fish so that they will quickly rise to the water’s surface making them more easily caught. Latham added that there is usually an increase in this practice during the Lenten season, when fish meals are frequently prepared.

He, however, is urging persons to stop, as this practice is destroying the environment and can affect persons when they eat the fish. “High concentration of chlorine and sevin… these chemicals can cause persons to suffer from liver and different problems later on in life,” he explained.

Latham noted that the poisoning of rivers and streams takes place on both the Leeward side in areas such as Barrouallie and Buccament Valley, and areas on the Windward side of the island such as Mesopotamia, Fancy and Owia. “They usually dam off a section where the fish are and they will put it (the chemical) in high concentration with these areas,” he stated. Latham added that persons should use other methods such as baskets or fishing lines. Some skillful individuals can even use their hands, he said.

Latham also expressed another problem, which lies in the deliberate starting of fires as a method of hunting iguanas, and getting rid of snakes, which he says, is illegal. Latham also explained that the iguana hunting season is over and persons found hunting iguanas will be fined. “We also need to remind them to stop this act immediately because we will be patrolling and making sure we catch those people who are doing such acts,” Wildlife Management Officer Springer added.

Latham also said those people who run over an iguana with their vehicle and have it in their possession are also acting illegally. Pertaining to snakes, Latham advised that snakes in St. Vincent are not poisonous. Therefore, persons should not use snakes as an excuse to start large fires.

Latham advised that the burning of garbage or bush, if necessary, should be done in small heaps at a time and be controlled either by a steel barrel or an effective barricade to keep it from spreading.

Signs, which show that fish have been poisoned, are redness of the eyes and the skin or the shell of the creature, in the case of the crayfish for example. The flesh comes off the bone very easily and the consumption may cause symptoms similar to food poisoning such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Fliers have been distributed throughout the Windward and Leeward communities, and clinics, schools and police stations have been informed about the Forestry Department’s regulations. Persons are invited to contact the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Forestry Department at (784) 457 8594 for additional information. (OS)