Ascension Island Government

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CEF 01-2022 Sheep in Two Boats Village

Question: At the public meeting held by the Governor at Two Boats, a resident of Two Boats expressed serious concern about sheep in the village, and the damage that they are doing to the area. Since then, a number of other residents have also complained about the sheep in Two Boats. There are a number of reasons for the complaints:

  • The sheep are either damaging or destroying the vegetation in the area. The hedge in front of the TBC has been virtually destroyed.
  • The animals are urinating and defecating throughout the village This is not pleasant, especially when taking into account the fact that people and children travel and play throughout the area.
  • The majority of properties in TB’s do not have a fence around the entire circumference of the houses; this had led to the sheep being able to get right next to resident’s bedrooms. The close proximity of the sheep to property bedrooms has created a nuisance from noise and smell from urine. On many occasions, residents have been awoken from sleep by the noise of the sheep – sleeping children have also been awoken and frightened by the noise of the sheep.
  • One resident also indicated that he thought that fighting rams were going to break through the fence at the front of his property.

Other than the nuisance and damage being caused by the sheep in the village, concern has also been raised regarding the health and welfare of the sheep. One resident has indicated that they have heard sheep coughing and spluttering, sometimes for long periods of time. The physical state of some of the sheep also calls into question whether they are fit and well. The health of the sheep also has implications for the health of the children in Two Boats – small children play freely in the area and could quite easily come into contact with things that have been in contact with sick sheep, or sheep that might be infested with parasites. In view of the concerns raised, I would strongly support some form of action to eradicate the sheep from Two Boats Village – either by removing them and replacing the fence around the village or by culling. Culling might be an emotive suggestion, so perhaps removal and replacing the fence might be the most sensible option.

      AIG response:   Thank you for raising this subject - it is understandable that such issues are of concern to the residents of Two Boats and we have therefore looked into that matter in some detail.   What has been done

  • Four AIG staff - the Project Manager, Shipping and Operations Officer, Peter Youde and I - walked the entire length of the fence to identify defects. This lengthy process identified that the majority of the fence was likely high and secure enough to stop sheep getting into Two Boats. There were however some areas requiring repairs, particularly around Two Boats Lodge and the MUGA.
  • Consultations with other senior colleagues within AIG, i.e. the Senior Management Team.

  Challenges to Implementing a solution

  • Subject to confirmation by the Crown Counsel, we understand that neither the perimeter fence at Two Boats nor the Island’s sheep are the legal responsibility of AIG.
  • No AIG staff are trained in the handling of feral animals, so if  a member of staff was to be injured removing sheep AIG may be liable were it to be established that it had been negligent in terms of its duty of care to its employees. This means an alternate means of removing sheep from the village will therefore likely be needed.
  • There are unconfirmed reports that some sheep can travel over the cattle grids. If this is true, it means that even if the fence is repaired and the sheep removed, sheep will still enter Two Boats.
  • Before the fence is repaired a solution for the removal of the sheep needs to be found, less they become “locked in” to Two Boats, worsening the current situation.

  What could be done if the challenges above were overcome

  • Our visit identified that the replacement of the entire fence is not necessary and the Facilities & Operations team could repair all the current fence defects. It is estimated this would take a maximum of four days’ work for four persons.
  • Once the repairs were completed, the sheep could be removed from Two Boats with confidence that they could not easily re-enter.
  • As the Crown Counsel will have clarified who is responsible for the fence and sheep, the fence repairs and sheep removal could then be carried out on a periodic basis by that party.

  What we plan to do next

  • To Consult  Counsel on how best to proceed, i.e. is it correct that the fence and sheep are not the responsibility of AIG and if so is there any way AIG could help by repairing the fence/removing the sheep without acquiring ongoing liability for both.
  • Report back to you with a further update by no later than 16 May 2022.

Councillor Nicholls

Submitted: 14 March 2022

Response: 29 March 2022