Article by: Jeannette Victor
Did you know that there are laws that protect the wildlife species and the forested areas of our island?
We often associate laws with the protection of human beings and their properties but never our precious wildlife.
It was an absolute necessity for the creation of legislation in order to protect the forest against overharvesting of timber, deforestation and setting fires in forested areas. This law was formed to help in the prevention of erosion, the conservation of natural resources, protection of wildlife habitat, maintenance of healthy water supplies, protection of infrastructure and human health.
The Wildlife Protection Act makes provision for the protection of the three categories of wildlife; protected wildlife, partially protected wildlife and unprotected wildlife.It is an offence to hunt and take protected wildlife, their eggs or young or damage their nest. Also hunting or possession of partially protected wildlife during close season is prohibited. Any person who does not possess a license cannot sell or purchase protected wildlife and partially protected wildlife or their parts during the close season, and should not attempt to import or export them.
Consequences of breaking the law!
As with any other law, there are consequences if not adhered to. If one is found guilty of an offence under the wildlife protection act an individual could be fine a sum of five thousand dollars ($5000EC) or twelve (12) months imprisonment.
If any one is found cutting or injuring any tree, removes forest produce and carries a chainsaw without a license, starts a fire and clears land or enter a prohibited area is liable of being fine two thousand dollars ($2000EC) or six (6) months imprisonment on the first offence, three thousand ($3000EC) or nine (9) months) imprisonment with hard labor on the third offence.
Some of our protected wildlife includes agouti, St. Lucia iguana (Iyanola), boa constrictor, opossum, all migratory and land birds including our national bird Amazona versicolor.
Unprotected wildlife includes rats, mice, mongoose and Fer-de-lance.
It must be noted however, that legislation is constantly reviewed and may be subject to change as for example in the case of the Fer-de-lance which is endemic to our island and whose population is quickly dwindling.