Cullers expected to bring in thousands of green iguanas

| 27/06/2016 | 66 Comments
Cayman News Service

Green iguana’s sea escape attempt folied by cullers

(CNS): A week-long pilot project to see how effective local cullers can be in exterminating the invasive green iguana came to an end Sunday evening and it is expected that the team of 18 registered cullers will bring in thousands. Last month a group of three professional hunters killed more than 4,000 in one week but local cullers who spent the last week killing the pesky iguana all over Grand Cayman, using air-rifles, sticks, traps and dogs, may very well exceed that. One group of cullers told CNS that they pulled in over 400 green iguanas in just one day using hooks.

For these pilot culls the registered local cullers receive a $5 bounty per head, financed from the Department of Environment’s 2015/16 budget. A budget of around $150,000 was available to the 18 people involved, which could cover as many as 30,000 iguanas.

Although experts at the DoE said they were not expecting that many to be killed in the second pilot, it said the final numbers will be used to inform the future decision. The DoE will compare the two pilot projects — a small number of armed professional in a targeted cull versus a larger group of registered local cullers using various means. Based on research gathered over the last year and the results of the two culling options they will decide the way forward.

DoE researchers recently estimated that there are more than half a million invasive green iguanas on Grand Cayman now – ten times the amount of people — and they are multiplying at a rate close to 50% per year, presenting a crisis for the local environment. The iguanas decimate gardens and farms as well as the islands’ wild resources, placing indigenous and native species at risk as they munch through endangered plants at an alarming rate and compete with local birds and other animals for food.

Over the next few weeks the DoE is expected to reveal what it believes will be the most effective way of turning around the growth in numbers, and while the eradication of the invasive reptile is now unlikely, that growth needs to become a serious decline.

Fred Burton, who is now working with the DoE to decide how to address this problem and which method will work best, said they are looking for the most cost-effective way to cut the population as quickly as possible. Burton said the goal is to at least bring down the numbers to the point where the iguana is no longer a social pest and a significant environmental threat.

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (66)

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  1. Green Be Gone says:

    Save some money by training unemployed persons to cull and pay them $2-3 per iguana.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You guys better import some Trinidadians we eat iguanas. They are a delicacy ion Trinidad. They are almost hunted out of existence in Trinidad. The government had to ban hunting for three years in order for local wild life to be safe.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Some very sad people here. When the genetically modified “Lionfish” showed up magically from an aquarium in Florida, fools actually believed it. Now we have the genetically-modified iguanas and people laugh. GM mosquitoes soon come.
    I think we have had genetically modified politicians/immigrants for a while now.
    Dear people of the Cayman Islands, stop being so bloody gullible, it does not become you.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t you give a $5000 reward to the culler who brings in the most iguanas at the end of the month? Then you will not waste more $$ than you should and probably get more too. Turn it into a game like the dolphin slam.

    • Anonymous says:

      A CNS reader with some common sense! I am shocked!

      • Saved says:

        No common sense there. The labourer is worthy of his reward to quote an “Irrelevant 3000 year old relic.”
        Go Jesus Go! I know you don’t need me, but I love you with all my heart and when this is all done, I have eternity to spend in your fabulous presence. It is a miracle of your grace because I don’t hate the haters. I hope that everyone will find You. Thank you for the sweet release from the pain of my hurts, failures and disappointments. I simply love You. ?

    • SSM345 says:

      Or do something like the Lionfish Culls each month…….

  5. Anonymous says:

    Start a farm. Sell the iguanas. If they try to shut it down, release them back into the wild and they’ll have to pay you to catch them again.

  6. Rob says:

    What about the three million CHICKENS/ROOSTERS!!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    estimated at 500,000, increasing at 50% pa = 5,000 additional iguanas per week. Lets say you want to get the population down to 100,000 by the end of 2018 you are going to need to kill moire than 6000 of these critters every week for 2 and a half years = 800,000 odd. AT $5 per head that is $4M!!!. Even then there are going to be 1,000 more every week if you dont continue the cull =$250,000 pa in bounties. Add the admin etc etc.. If we are not prepared to commit to that spend then this pilot is just a cruel waste of money

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, the pilot is so Cayman can now do those kind of calculations and make exactly that decision. Are we willing to commit the money (over time) that it is going to take to ‘mitigate’ (remove) the iguanas, or do we instead continue to ‘adapt’ to (put up with) them? One (removal) is a national cost, the other (adaptation) is a dispersed individual cost.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m sure that if they close in on a long-term plan then whoever is chosen for that plan will be on a retainer, rather than the $5/head pilot scheme, or at least that’s what I would expect.

  8. Blue iguana says:

    What I am scared about is that mr. Fred Burton is our local iguana expert yet he did not see the increase in the green iguanas coming? But surprise that government has now provided $150,000 to erraticate the green iguanas yet the writing was on the wall years ago? How effective was this recent culling? I deeply don’t believe this is the answer to waste tax payers money but hey who am I? We have a great expert like mr. Burton at helm directing this useless culling program. We got children in this society going to bed each night hungry but we can give away money to 18 culling experts to try and rid of these nuisances. Mr burton sorry but you need not come up with a more comprehensive program that will cull not only the iguanas we see but the thousands that are in the swamps. Another failed, wasteful of resources and money at the tax payers own expense. What a joke!!! Really wish we could get some sensible people that make decisions that will help this country be great again………..just maybe Trump will come in and help this country cause we locals are as blind and ignorant to the tee!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe the Iguana meat could be donated to those going hungry every night. Or their families could be taught how to cull them and be given a license, then they could feed their family.

    • Anonymous says:

      you had me gowing your way until you suggetsed the Donald as an answer!!! People here seem to think Dart is a power hungry money obsessed bully – just watch the Donald go!!

  9. Animaliberator says:

    Eventhough I defend the right of pretty much any animal, I proposed this type of cull the way they do in Florida but fell on deaf ears. I do agree with one other post that it must be done quick and humanely, stick, stones and whatnot should be prohibited as I believe we are not barbarians.
    Then, start a taco shop, again, same as in Florida. This also maintains the will to keep it up otherwise you are just wasting your time so fast they replicate.
    I also hope the government thinks twice before they allow any other foreign animal species on island.

  10. Unison says:

    We should have a talk with the Oxitec scientist and see if they can genetically modify or change these lizards to producing two eggs only. We can genetically color them so we can identify the green ones from the GM ones. :)) Since Oxitec staff is here we should consult them about it, including our lionfish problem. Think of it – having the iguanas in diverse colors would be a great tourist attraction.

    You have to think like this in the 21st century. ;)) Ya … I know … you must be saying Im crazy, but all great scientific endeavors has started with crazy ideas. If Oxitec is successful with their mosquitoe experiments, I think alot of good can be done. Its called science! :))

  11. Anonymous says:

    Can’t something else be done than killing them?

    • Anonymous says:

      Of course, we can all throw them in your yard….

    • Unison says:

      I sympathize with you. They stray cats and neuter them, stop them from breeding. They don’t catch and kill them. If they did so, the whole society would be in an uproar.

      Maybe … something else could be done to control their population.

    • Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      Iguana fighting? Using them as bait for big game fishing? Adopt-an-iguana? Comes appoint when a cull, plain and simple is needed.

    • Beaumont says:

      Yes. If they are to be killed, they must be also eaten. It was the way I was raised. I’ve never eaten an iguana, but I can’t imagine they would be worse than ‘gator, which is wonderful.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, crush them, annihilate them, send them into oblivion. My heart bleeds with you, absolutely not!

    • Anonymous says:

      you clearly don’t have land or a garden. they destroy everything

    • Anonymous says:

      No. They’re vermin, so kill them.

      Should we save rats too? Of course not. And since there can be no moral scaling here (i.e. “some animals deserve to die but others don’t”) we should do the same to the stray dogs and cats, which are also vermin.

      Those who disagree will change their tune fast enough if rabies ever reaches here – as I fear it will one day soon.

    • Anonymous says:

      We should educate them to be more tolerant of the indigenous population and quit eating everything. Then there’s the 9-week iguana rollover period that needs enforcing more effectively. And birth control. Do they even USE that? And diplomacy, don’t forget diplomacy. SMH.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Our government has turned a blind eye at these pests from the very beginning. Now the numbers are so large that no one truly knows. This reptile is absolutely useless and the public should be encouraged all year round to to kill them. It is amazing to see their rapid adaption. Pretty soon you may come home to find one at your door and it won’t let you in!

    Reduce the reward to say $2-$3/head and declare open season on them all year round. This will be the only sure method to eradication.

  13. Anonymous says:

    If we can catch the million that are currently running around that will be another foot on top of Mt Trashmore.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “$150,000 was available to the 18 people involved”

    ….So how were the lucky 18 selected? Just by being bro’s with the premier or????

  15. Anonymous says:

    In my opinion..This meat can’t taste all that great otherwise we wouldn’t have a problem with overpopulation. Everyone would be hunting these things.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Sticks?? How humane is this?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t the DOE make contact with countries that eat them. Ship the meat overseas.

    • Anonymous says:

      Any private individual who wants to do that can do so.

      • Anonymous says:

        License and permit for shipment.

        • Anonymous says:

          Basically free. Its the other costs – shipping & handling – that are high. The real hurdle, however, is (assuming we’re talking for human consumption) the proper handling to make the product acceptably safe to the receiving country so that you can import it and sell it. So you need to collect the iguanas and process them in a manner that gives you safe-to-eat meat, then freeze/refrigerate it and ship it somewhere then sell it (distribution agreements). The licence and permit for shipment is the least of your problems amigo.

  18. Entrepreneur says:

    We should also make use of their meat and skin. Any young enterprising Caymanian should look into making iguana skin related products. Also, the meat is supposedly tasty so restaurants can implement programs similar to the lionfish.

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