Two suspected conch poachers who led the Department of Environment and the Joint Marine Unit on a chase across the North Sound have been found unharmed.
The men, arrested this morning and now out on police bail, delayed their capture by ditching their 26-foot canoe in the mangroves near Barker’s, initiating a search that left one marine officer injured.
Acting on a tip, DOE deputy chief conservation officer Ronnie Dougall told Cayman 27 he was up early Monday morning (13 March) looking for poachers.
He approached two men on this vessel near the Rum Point channel, and asked them to cut their engine.
“They failed to comply, they sped off at a high rate of speed and I followed them,” said Mr. Dougall.
Mr. Dougall told Cayman 27 he called for backup. The Marine Unit vessel Typhoon joined in the chase across the North Sound.
“I backed off a little and let the police go in with their vessel and the canoe went straight into the mangroves at high-speed, buried the boat about 25 to 30 feet into the mangroves,” said Mr. Dougall.
Fearful the impact may have caused injuries, Mr. Dougall said he and marine unit officers scoured the scene for survivors.
“Obviously the concern then was for their safety, that became the prime concern, due to the speed at which the boat hit the mangroves,” said Mr. Dougall.
The two men vanished, BUT the vessel, Naah today bobo, was recovered. The DOE also seized the boat trailer and the vehicle used to tow it.
“We didn’t find any evidence on board the vessel of poaching, but we do have video evidence,” said Mr. Dougall.
Mr. Dougall told Cayman 27 he’ s surprised the suspected poachers would take such desperate measures to outrun the law.
“People act in different stages of panic or excitement or adrenaline, and they do what they do, and we do what we do, and try to do our job the best we can, and just back off when we have to,” said Mr. Dougall.
He said he’s just happy the men lived to tell the tale.
Mr. Dougall said he interviewed the suspected poachers today and told Cayman 27 they came through the ordeal with barely a scratch.