Goa’s Minister for Environment and Forests Rajendra Arlekar on Friday admitted in the State Assembly that a process had been started to identify animals and birds which damage farm crops and that it was the first step towards officially declaring certain species as vermin.
The Minister gave this assurance during a discussion on a calling attention moved by several members expressing concern over recent speculations that that the government may declare peacock, the national bird and the Indian bison, Goa’s State animal as vermin, on the last day of the brief budget session of the Assembly.
The Leader of the Opposition and former Chief Minister Pratapsing Rane demanded that wild boars were “profuse breeders”, and extensively damage crops and should be declared as vermin and culled.
“Declaring an animal as vermin is not easy. Data needs to be collected about which animals is vermin. There is a data collection procedure. A process has been started by the State Forest department about which animals are harming crops,” Mr. Arlekar replied.
The Minister said that the process of declaring pest animals and birds as vermin involves vetting of the data by the State Wildlife Board which in turn is recommended to the Central government. A team of the Ministry of Environment and Forests is then dispatched to the State and if found agreeable, permission to declare specific bird and animals can be declared as vermin for a specified time and area.
Earlier, Mr. Rane, an agriculturist himself, conceded that he used to hunt wild boar before the hunting ban came into place in the country and went on to demand that wild boars should be declared as vermin because they cause tremendous damage to crops.
“I grow flowers at Sanquelim and send them to Delhi and Bangalore. The wild boars attack the farm and eat the bulbs of the plants. Some people have quit farming because of the wild boar menace. In Maharashtra and Kerala the wild boar already declared a vermin,” Mr. Rane said.
The debate heated up in the State recently when Agriculture Minister Ramesh Tawadkar said that a process was on to declare peacocks, bison, wild boars and some species of monkeys as vermin or nuisance animals because complaints from farmers were rising that they were damaging farm crops and horticulture.
Criticism from political parties, civil society and environmentalists forced Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar to issue a retraction assuring that peacocks and bison will not be declared as vermin.