No legal action by Guam on carabao kill
September 5, 2003
Despite a complaint filed by a group opposing the U.S. Navy’s killing of carabao, Guam officials will not be taking any legal action.
The Colonized Chamorro Coalition, an “umbrella” organization of eight different Chamorro organizations, filed a complaint last week accusing the Navy of killing carabao — nonindigenous water buffalo — without authorization at Naval Ordnance Magazine on Guam.
The group also called on the Guam Attorney General’s Office “to take immediate action to stop the Navy’s flagrant abuse of Guam laws.”
Guam Attorney General Douglas Moylan said earlier this week he does not want to further legitimize the issue by pursuing legal action stemming from the complaint.
“We are monitoring the situation and working with the U.S. Navy,” he said.
The U.S. Navy is not liable under local laws, Moylan said, adding his office does not intend to challenge a Guam U.S. District Court ruling that island law cannot be applied to federal property.
He said the Guam Agriculture Department has developed an adoption program agreement with the Navy.
Under the agreement, Navy and Agriculture officials move juvenile carabao from federal property to communities where residents want to adopt them.
In the last couple of weeks, the Navy has allowed local government employees to come on base daily to remove carabao, according to the Agriculture Department.
“It is going fairly well,” Agriculture Director Paul Bassler said, adding that in the last two weeks, 17 carabao have been removed.
Officials were only able to remove 21 between July 2002 and the beginning of last month, he said.
Starting next week, Agriculture officials will come on base for two hours, twice a week to remove the carabao.
Bassler also said they have an informal agreement with the Navy not to kill the carabao.
However, the Navy believes culling is an important procedure in reducing the number of carabao.
Carabao are threatening the safety of Navy employees, officials have said, noting they have also destroyed fence lines around ammunition bunkers and sped up erosion, impacting the local water supply.
The carabao problem is a long-standing issue, and Navy officials have been working closely with local agencies to resolve the problem.
The Navy had implemented immuno-contraceptive vaccine and adoption programs to help slow carabao population growth. However, Navy officials said they did not see a significant reduction in numbers.
Culling began in May 2003.
“It does take all three facets of the program to successfully reduce the size of the herd,” said Lt. Thurraya Kent, a Navy spokeswoman. “We understand that it is a sensitive issue.”