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The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security is considering a combination of deterrents to combat threats posed by a growing monkey population.

Chief Agricultural Officer, Keeley Holder, alluded to this yesterday while appearing on VOB’s Brass Tacks programme with moderator Corey Lane.

Outlining some of the measures being examined by the Ministry to control this population, Ms. Holder stated that there would be no one-size fits all or one solution, but instead a combination of solutions since the intention was about “coexistence and creating harmony within our ecosystem” and not eradication.

She noted that the Ministry would be taking a two-pronged approach and looking at “a set of things that farmers and homeowners can do to deter monkeys” to keep them in their habitat.

The Chief Agricultural Officer pointed out that last year a Best Practices in Green Monkey Deterrence manual for farmers was prepared, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and National Beautification, and the activities have been used successfully by them, depending on their locations. The document, she added, is available free for download at biodiversity.gov.bb.

She said the manual contained about 50 deterrence options, and listed these as including enclosures, road covers, tree nets, fruit covers for bags, solar-powered fence chargers, caution tape, solar-powered ultra-sonic devices; propane scare cannons, pepper spray, scent deterrents, chicken manure, Sargassum seaweed, motor sensing, predator images and alarm calls.

Ms. Holder, however, stressed that for some persons a combination of deterrents may have to be employed since the monkey may become accustomed to one or the other.  She added that these could be selected according to a person’s budget and environment.

Chief Agricultural Officer, Keeley Holder. (FP)

Ms. Holder also pointed out that in addition to these deterrents at the individual level, emphasis had to be placed on removing a certain number of monkeys from the population annually.

Disclosing that the Ministry would be seeking to maintain the family structure of the monkeys, in terms of their male and female species and their young, she said, in addition to the known bounty programme, the two-fold approach would involve increasing the trapping effort currently being done with monkeys.

She also revealed that at a recent meeting, which included officials from the Agriculture and Environment Ministries and the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, the latter had agreed to increase the trapping of monkeys by about 50 per cent this year.

Acknowledging that this would be the start of reducing the population, Ms. Holder said that by next week a Monkey Hotline should be established with a WhatsApp feature, where persons could call in or message information related to such things as location and size of troop seen.

Emphasising that this was in order for the Agriculture Ministry to start deploying more traps to areas with large monkey populations, she said the Wildlife Reserve had already increased the number of traps they possessed and preliminary discussions had taken place with farming associations about their willingness to provide some assistance in building more traps for the island.

Further divulging that the Ministry was discussing aspects of training with the Wildlife Reserve, Ms. Holder said this was about providing training to farmers and other interested persons in trapping monkeys, “so that we have more trappers available to address the issue because the whole reason for doing this is to have a humane way in which we handle the removal of monkeys from the areas that are being most affected”.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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