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HomeNewsArchivesPARK'S PLAN FOR GOATS, SHEEP TO BE DISCUSSED

PARK'S PLAN FOR GOATS, SHEEP TO BE DISCUSSED

Aug. 11, 2003 – V.I. National Park officials will hold a public meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Legislature Building in Cruz Bay to present and get feedback on their plan to reduce the number of goats and sheep within the park.
"It will improve the overall ecology of park. You won't see denuded trees, bare ground and soil in the ocean," said Rafe Boulon, the park's chief of resources management.
Park officials will incorporate information from the meeting in their draft plan and environmental assessment.
Because of the devastating impact that free-ranging goats and sheep have on natural and cultural resources, the park will consider various alternatives to reduce their populations within the park.
The animals now call many parts of the park home, including in some of the most sensitive and rare forest habitats found in the Caribbean. They are selective browsers and tend to graze on small shrubs and grasses very close to the ground. They may even tear roots from the ground, preventing regrowth.
According to a park release, the dry forest that predominates on the southeastern part of St. John is the most fragile area, and it may have the least possibility for recovery.
Additionally, goats and sheep consume endangered species of vegetation including the St. Thomas lidflower and prickly ash, as well as Marron Bacora, which has been proposed for the endangered species list.
Getting rid of the goats and sheep also will improve habitats for lizards, snakes, salamanders and insects that consume leaves, fruits and berries for their survival.
This program is part of the park's overall plan to get rid of non-native species of animals also including cats, rats, mongooses and pigs.

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