Cullers bring in 14,400 green iguanas

| 30/06/2016 | 64 Comments
Cayman News Service

Green iguana’s sea escape attempt foiled by cullers

(CNS): The 18 registered cullers and their support teams managed to bring in more than 14,400 iguanas during the Department of Environment’s week-long green iguana culling project. Local cullers, who were using air rifles, sticks, traps, machetes and dogs, were offered $5 per iguana and have collected a bounty of some $72,000 for their haul. The cullers were invited to register for the hunt after attending a public meeting in December, when the DoE asked for public input on how to combat the invasive iguana, which is now posing a serious threat to the Cayman Islands’ natural habitat.

The 18 local cullers who registered had all attended that meeting and offered input on how the country could tackle the problem and expressed their interest in helping long before the money was on the table. However, postings on social media this week after people realized how much had been earned, given the number of iguanas that had been caught, some appeared ‘green’ with envy as they believed they had missed out.

Allegations that there was some favouritism or hidden agendas at work were unfounded. DoE officials have been open and transparent about how the cullers, who were all volunteers, had come forward because most of them understood the gravity of the situation and wanted to help – with or without a financial reward.

DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie explained that the idea of a free for-all-bounty will not work. She said the department does not have the resources to manage an open cull, where every person on island can go in person with their dead reptiles and expect a cash payout, because it would be impossible to manage.

She explained that at last year’s meeting, her department had asked people who attended to sign up if they were interested in helping. Once the pilot cull project had been worked out, the DoE contacted all the people who had expressed an interest and had left their contact details. They were then invited to go to the DoE and register if they still wanted to take part in the cull.

Last month a group of three professional hunters killed more than 4,000 in one week in a specific area, which was phase one of the project. Last week’s cull by registered local people was phase two. The results of both culls will inform the decision about a much wider and sustained programme to try and eliminate the iguanas before they strips Grand Cayman of all its trees and plants.

Eighteen people registered to join the hunt last week but there were no rules on the hunters engaging more people to help them. Ebanks-Petrie said the registration was to ensure that the pilot programme could be properly managed because this was a serious project to collect data. She said that staff from the DoE had to be on hand to receive and count the iguanas, deal with their disposal and then pay out the $5 per head bounty to the registered cullers at the end of the week.

“It was already a challenge for us to handle just 18 cullers,” Ebanks-Petrie told CNS, explaining that the reptiles were being brought to the DoE in the mornings and evenings every day. “But we are very pleased with the numbers they were able to bring in. We now have enough information from last week’s cull and the controlled cull by professional hunters to sit down and analyse the data to see what it tells us so we can make a decision on the way forward on what we should recommend to government.”

Ebanks-Petrie explained that with over 14,400 iguanas culled by a relatively small group of people in just one week, the problem on Grand Cayman maybe even worse than feared. She said it is certain now that it will take a significant amount of time and resources to make a real impact on the growing numbers.

Officials from the DoE have estimated, based on the limited surveys that have been done over the last two years, that there are 500,000 iguanas on Grand Cayman but the population is almost doubling annually, posing a serious threat to the environment and many of Cayman’s indigenous flora and fauna.

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (64)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    what a waste the meat is worth big $ and so is the skin too stupid to know this and fyi Pepsi is not birth control

  2. Knot S Smart says:

    Too bad they had to put them through the tire crusher though…

  3. See no evil says:

    Is it true they are paying 5$per iguana i hope thats not true and if it is i will tell yall what i think . I have never seen so many wasted money like in cayman .then yall talking about feed the kids? There is a big problem you see that money is just being wastes right now look at the iguanas they are skinny right now ,right? So you hunters maybe you dont know but its because they are laying the eggs so you go kill 1 and she just came from puthing up 100 more that will be roaming when the money finish dont pay for killing iguanas make it a sport where people get prizes and allow all the central americans to participate its a win win you get rid of the problem some people have food and im sure if the prize is couple of case of 345 , appleton, havana club then they claim the prize cook the iguana you get rid of the problem they have a party and everybody live happy think about it iguana competition people donate the prize gov save the money ?Think think youll be surprise what result you can get when a little liquor is involve ?

  4. Annie says:

    You don’t even have to kill or cull anything under this scheme, just drive home from work and pick ’em up off the road. I passed half a dozen in a mile on my way home Friday, that’s an easy $30.

  5. I Wuzthere says:

    The UK Government used to offer a bounty of one shilling for the tail of a grey squirrel. They were overrunning the country and driving the indigenous red squirrel towards extinction. It didn’t work; the plan was abandoned around 1960 and now red squirrels only survive in protected habitats.
    AND there was no restriction on the use of firearms; shotgun licences were easy to obtain and a shilling could buy four 12-gauge cartridges.

  6. Mike says:

    What a waste of money. It is a sad day in cayman when the Cayman Islands government implements a program that is not even worth the effort. Are we as country than cannot see through this scheme and demand for a more comprehensive eradication plan than the one currently implemented. I hope the stats now confirm this BS of a plan ain’t gonna work. I recall in Jamaica many years ago when snakes was a problem for the sugar cane workers. The Jamaican government brought in the mongoose which solved the problem for the cane workers. I am confident a similar implementation would certainly place a dent in the iguana population and far less cheaper than the current plan that was recently implemented.

    As a country, we certainly waste a lot of tax payers money. Why not put that $150,000 in medical care for those that cannot afford it?

    • Anonymous says:

      Because wasting the people’s money and breaking their sovereignty to debt is the plan.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mike, please……The money has come from a fund donated to help with invasive species. NOT THE “TAX PAYERS” MONEY. the DOE is simply the research base for this important project. You have no idea the data that can be collected from “BS of a plan” and i am 100% sure they would not have conducted it if they just wanted to give away $72,000. Valuable data is collected TO BASE THE FUTURE CONTROL PLANS ON. How did Jamaica know that the mongoose would control snakes….the answer is RESEARCH!

    • Unison says:

      I think government would save more money if they have our Boy Scouts and Cadets trained to cull them, and reward them with other incentives. When you make a continuous flow of money according to each bounty head your reward, your going to have problems and spend more.

      Rather, I think it would be prudent if the monies are allotted to first, second, third, fourth and fifth places of those who catch the most iguanas. Like 25 thousand for first prize, 20 for second, 15 for third, 10 for fourth, and 5 for fifth place. So only government spends 70 thousand plus free food and drinks for all participants. Something like that 😉

      But again government could have school leavers join the boy scouts, the cadets … and along with conservationist, I think they would do a good job. And it would be cheaper deal for Cayman Islands. 🙂

  7. Anonymous says:

    More information on the air rifle please! These are illegal in the draconian islands. Proof of fire-arm license? Or corruption peeking to say hello?

  8. Anonymous says:

    The iguana problem lays squarely in the hands of the DOE’s incompetence of indecision, delay and procrastination in addressing the problem many years ago. When the DOE and the NCC did eventually wake up it then took them both over two years for anything to be done about the problem. Their solution for the environment was, to shoot them, pay $5/head and then dump them at the GT land fill. (Environmentalists, and the DEH, have you not heard of an incinerator) This is their grand plan and it has taken over 20 years to get to this point. The DOE’s and NCC’s incompetence at its best, because they have effectively created this environmental disaster themselves and we now have to use the tax payers money to pay a $5 bounty per head in an attempt to try to control the problem well after the horse has bolted from the pen.

  9. Hanson says:

    Can Mrs. Ebanks-Petrie answer the following questions:
    Did any of the cullers paid pension to their pension plan?
    Did any of the cullers have medical insurance?
    Did any of the cullers have liability insurance in the event one of them gets hurt or they hurt someone?
    Or did government foot the entire bill and also paid them?

    • Caymanian says:

      Omg….wth cares…..we have a problem and we are solving it and returning money back into the community. Really!!! Really!!!!

      • See no evil says:

        turn this in to a yearly competition you know like the fish tournament iguana tournament it may not solve the problem but it can help cut down on the pest do some research and then set the date before they lay the eggs ???so lets see a ticket to honduras most CAmericans trabel true honduras 400$ 400$ gas some bycicles lot a people use them if you want to spen some money make it a 5,000 a year and or donations ?What can you loose and make it be on a holliday then make another competition of who can clean them the fastes and at the end give them to people who want them and all you have left is the skin to trow away ?

    • Anonymous says:


  10. Anonymous says:

    Collect them, freeze them and sell them to countries that eat them for a delicacy. They’ll make back a portion of the money spent to pay the cullers.

    • Unison says:

      That’s thinking with a business mind! We are killing so many lovely iguanas and we can’t use their skins for producing local products??? Or, sell their meat for food???

      I personally don’t like to kill anything just for waste. To me that’s like a sin.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Have the same department that is responsible for picking up stray dogs, cull the iguanas. Hire two individuals on salary to cull the iguanas. Give them them a minimum that they need to bring in every month. Then when they have reduced the population, assign them to other tasks such as reducing the chicken population or the lionfish population.

    If they don’t meet the minimum that they should catch within the month, then they are fired and new individuals are hired. Simple. This would be in the contract that they sign and would ensure that there are individuals dedicated to eradicating the problem on a regular basis. If you need more than two then hire four individuals and set them out into different districts or to the other islands.

    For the Lion Fish problem, there should be a quarterly/half year/annual prize for individuals who catch the most Lion Fish. Plus have someone on payroll to catch a minimum number per month.

    • Anonymous says:

      If they deal with the iguana the same way they deal with dogs we’ll have even more iguanas just like we have even more stray dogs. The culling doesn’t appear to require any special skills or equipment. They should let the unemployed do this and give them a way to earn some money

    • Anonymous says:

      Uh, first they gotta learn how to pick up the stray dogs.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Snapper boats stop. Into swan island and catch live iguanas and bring them here all the time???? One custon agent and one immigration go aboard and clear them in 10 mins? No searching? Customs do their job-it properly- perhaps they bring something extremely poisonous and wh knows. Hope customs read this post!!!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    does anyone know who I call to come get them out of my yard?

    I am willing to pay $.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Couldn’t Cayman 27 make this into some sort of reality show? Airing at 8PM or something….
    Would be interesting to see the ways in which these animals were caught…

  15. Unison says:

    Where are the Cadets? Why can’t they be trained to participate???

  16. Anonymous says:

    YEEEEEEEHAAAAAAA…get’em Iguanaboys!!!

  17. Anonymous says:

    $72k gone just like that! And they hardly put a dent in the problem… What a complete waste of resources! So thats half of the iguana cull budget gone and theres only 485,600 iguanas left to kill.


    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t remember which country it was but, at some stage, they had a huge snake problem and offered people money for each dead snake they brought in. After a year, they realized that more and more dead snakes were being brought in and figured out that people had started raising snakes in order to take advantage of the program.

      The government then decided to stop the program, at which point, all the people raising snakes released their snakes.

      • St Patrick says:


      • Anonymous says:

        Also Europe. Happened with rats back in history. Huge rat problem which people started framing the rats and selling them taking advantage of the culling. When the government found out and tried to tax the farm, they let all the rats back out into the wild and had to pay them to catch them again.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, lets do nothing because this plan isn’t perfect. Maybe we should hire consultants to give us the better plan. Don’t we have enough of inaction!?!

      • Anonymous says:

        Or maybe someone should have done some simple accounting and realized that they blew half the budget on nothing.

    • Rhett says:

      14,400 at least, hatched since?

  18. Anonymous says:

    I always knew a iguana farm would make a killing…

  19. Anonymous says:

    OK.. so in reality you didn’t have to be registered to take part in the cull.

    Just kill an iguana, take it to one of the registered cullers (lets call them intermediaries / brokers shall we) and get an IOU for $3. Broker (I mean registered culler) takes said iguana (along those from each of his ‘support team’) to the Government and picks up $5, distributing the $3 per iguana to his (limitless) team and picking up $2 a time for doing nothing other than registering. Nice work if you can get it!!!

    If this is the way it is going to go then sell the licenses! The numbers in the article suggest 800 per ‘team’ in a week. When people work out the loophole, that will double and more. Lets say a licence holders support team kills as little as 5000 per month gives the license holder $5-$10,000 per month income. Nice little earner that will last at least a year. Sell that priviledge to the licence holder for $20000. They should still more than double their money in a year and in the meantime Govt picks up $360K to defray the cost of admin

  20. Unison says:

    P.S. government is good at covering things up

  21. Eli says:

    Doesn’t look like we got good value for our money here? The culled amount represents 0.03% of the estimated amount iguanas on island. Yet the money was almost 50% of the budget. The average payment would be $4,000 per culler for one week which in terms is a lot better than flipping burgers in a restaurant. I am still not convinced this is the way. If this program continues, this island will be bankrupt with iguanas still living in the mangroves.

  22. Anonymous says:

    If we take 5000 civil servants, give them the week off and set each one the task of culling 100 iguanas, let’s see, that would mean, hey, problem solved!

  23. Anonymous says:

    Please can you send the cullers to the GT/south sound/walkers road area. I would like to have all of them removed. I’m sure you could get 1000 in a day. Then keep on going down to prospect, that’s another 5000 and onwards to spotts until you reach East End. The following day. Start again but go towards West Bay.

    Day 3 go back towards East End.

    How about having the individuals charged with community service to do the culling? How about having these high school children trained to cull iguanas as well as lion fish. At least if these children are coming into my yard trespassing, they will have a productive reason rather than trying to rob homes.

    How about the registered unemployed with the NWDA engage in culling?

    • Anonymous says:

      Pet shop should not have been allowed to bring in iguanas. That was the root cause of the problem. Some were brought in from overseas and the children let them ago. We need to deal with a problem as it raises its ugly head, but procrastination has us in this position today. Overrun by iguanas.
      Every person should be trying to get rid of these pests.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you serious?

    • Think of all possibilities says:

      The LAST thing you need in your backyard is an untrained teenager with an air rifle. Did a coconut fall on your head?

    • Anonymous says:

      You sound crabby. Teach kids to kill? Great Idea, idiot.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I’d prefer getting rid of the worthless feril roosters

    • P&L says:

      Stop it the roosters are awesome. It grows on you. They are nature’s alarm clock.ndonr be a grump ?

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m okay with the roosters. I don’t care for killing things, and I think some of them are pretty cool looking. And they are little dinosaurs.
        But as for alarm clocks, who to hell wants to get up at 2:30 in the morning?

    • Anonymous says:

      Why don’t you just go live in a mall?? Really.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t forget the feral illiterates.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ll do it for $3/Head.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s against the law to get rid of deadbeats fathers.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’d prefer to get rid of people who can’t spell. #feral

    • Anonymous says:

      The feral roosters that thrive due to all the crap on the floor that lazy assed humans leave?

      • Anonymous says:

        I had no doubt that the haul would be thousands per week but I think that $5.00 was way too high. Should have been $1. 00 or $1.50 considering that they don’t have to search for these pests. don’t get me wrong I am appreciative of the initiative but considering the numbers we are dealing with I wonder how much the DOE will be able to payout before noticing a real decline in the numbers. Also every person who are plagued with these pests should do their share to eradicate them from their yards. I know I do.

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