FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 15, 2003 For More Information:
St. John, U. S. Virgin Islands Rafe Boulon: (340) 693-8950 x 224
VIRGIN ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK RELEASES DRAFT PLAN FOR
SUSTAINED REDUCTION OF NON-NATIVE GOATS AND SHEEP
Arthur Frederick, Virgin Islands National Park Superintendent, announced today the beginning
of a 60-day public review of the Draft Sustained Reduction Plan for Non-native Goats and Sheep
Within Virgin Islands National Park Environmental Assessment (EA), a long-range plan for
minimizing impacts from feral, non-native animal species within the national park. The review
period will be from December 15, 2003 to February 15, 2004.
The purpose of the Draft Environmental Assessment is to evaluate impacts from undertaking a
control program for non-native domestic goats and sheep within Virgin Islands National Park.
By reducing populations inside the Park, adverse impacts to visitors, residents, natural, cultural
and aquatic resources will decrease. Collectively, goat and sheep populations pose a threat to the
native natural resources, long-term resource management programs of the Park, cultural
resources, and visitor health and safety.
Domestic goats and sheep are ungulate species native to South West Asia. The Park has
experienced goat and sheep grazing since it was established in 1956. Goat and sheep populations
would be expected to increase throughout the Park, if left unchecked. Goats and sheep have
established non-native breeding populations in many areas and all habitat types of Virgin Islands
National Park. The proposed action is intended to humanely reduce their populations within the
Park and minimize new introductions.
The effects of goats and sheep on Park resources result from their movements, habitat utilization
and food habits. Of greatest concern are the destructive effects goats and sheep have on natural
ecosystems and native components of those ecosystems. Selective grazing produces changes in
dominant plant species. Reduces native plant populations, increases invasive plant distribution
through seed dispersal, and increases soil erosion that occurs near salt ponds and marine
communities. Habitat destruction also impacts native animals, aesthetics, visitor and heath, and
reduces the stability of historical ruins. Their grazing and trampling detrimentally affect the
aesthetic and wilderness values of the Park. Goats and sheep negatively affect the flora and
fauna of the Park through habitat alteration and competition for food.
VINP and Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture (VIDA) formed a partnership authorizing
VIDA to assist with goat and sheep capture. Both agencies will promote the VIDA Animal
Registration and Impoundment Program which requires livestock including goats, sheep, hogs
and donkeys to be fenced, registered and visibly tagged. Funds from VINP may be available for
St. John livestock ranchers to repair fences. Livestock ranchers are advised to remove their
animals from NPS lands and maintain their exclosures to prevent future encroachments.
A public meeting was held at the Legislative Conference Room on August 12, 2003 in St. John
that introduced the plan to control introduced animals within the Park. The well-attended
meeting gained support for the program and a majority of participants favored the control
actions. USDA Wildlife Services personnel will conduct wildlife reduction program with
assistance from VINP staff. In addition, some meat will be donated to individuals for personal
Copies of the Draft Environmental Assessment are available for review at public libraries and the
Park's Visitor Center in Cruz Bay, National Park Headquarters at Christiansted NHS, St. Croix or
can be downloaded from the Internet at www.nps.gov/viis or www.friendsvinp.org. Copies can
also be requested from Rafe Boulon@nps.gov or by calling (340) 693-8950 extension 224.