After three years of dedicated efforts in the management of Saba’s free-roaming goat population, the positive impact of this initiative is visibly transforming Saba's ecosystem, with remarkable results observed in the island's greening, vegetation recovery, and the resurgence of abundant grasses, which in some areas seem to become a natural competitor for the invasive Coralita.
The success of the intensified hunting efforts over the past year, through the assistance of hunters appointed by the Public Entity, has paved the way for an even more comprehensive approach. A team of experienced hunters from the Royal Dutch Hunters' Association will join the efforts in February to further intensify the removal of roaming goats.
Scheduled from February 13th to 25th, the hunting activities will be carried out by the Dutch hunters, who bring extensive experience in wildlife population control. They will be assisted and advised by local hunters. The team will employ a zoned approach, covering the entire island to not only remove roaming goats but also provide a more precise estimate of the remaining population. During the hunting activities, a team of assistants will help to ensure that goats that can be retrieved safely, will be retrieved. These will be brought to the butcher station for further processing.
To ensure the success of the hunting activities and public safety, hiking trails and other areas where people may come will be closed to the public - including other hunters - when hunting is ongoing. The schedule will ensure that the Mount Scenery trail can stay open at all times. A detailed hunting schedule will be published in advance to keep the community informed.
The data collected during this intensified hunting phase will play a crucial role in developing a comprehensive plan for a further targeted reduction of the roaming goat population. Although it will be challenging to remove all free roaming goats, the aim is to keep ensuring a higher removal than reproduction rate. The plan for the next phase will be made in collaboration with wildlife control experts. In this phase the Public Entity will also work towards finalizing the bounty period.
Simultaneously, the Public Entity continues to encourage responsible animal husbandry. Later this month a butcher training is organized for interested people on the island, with the aim to develop professional butcher skills locally and making it possible to provide higher quality local meat products. Additionally, subsidized feed for farm animals is sold at the harbor every Tuesday morning.