(CNS): People interested in taking part in this year’s green iguana cull to reduce the numbers of the ubiquitous pest are asked to register tomorrow with the Department of Environment. Wednesday 19 April will be the first open day of registration for eligible locals and businesses to register as contractors for the cull, which starts next month with a $2 bounty on each green iguana head. Contracts are open to Caymanian adults, permanent residents with the right to work or appropriate Trade and Business Licence holders.
The contracts are for participants who want to cull the pesky reptiles on a significant scale (in excess of 100 iguanas per month) during the May through August culling period.
With fears that the invasive iguanas could be reaching close to a million on Grand Cayman and their appearance on Cayman Brac, the government has allocated funding for the project in a bid to bring the population down to a manageable size, as total eradication is now thought to be impossible.
Green iguanas have flourished in Cayman over the last ten years or more and are having a disastrous impact on the natural habitat of the island, consuming trees and plants at an alarming rate. Working out the best way to control the numbers has been a challenge, as well as how to disposing of the carcasses.
DoE officials are particularly concerned that dead iguanas are not dumped into the sea but properly disposed of. Fred Burton, who heads up the DoE’s Invasive Species Unit, revealed at a recent National Conservation Council meeting that a cull manager was being recruited to remotely oversee the four-month project to tackle the pest during its breeding season.
Culling contracts will place strict obligations on participants to respect property rights, cull the iguanas humanely and dispose of carcasses properly. Reporting of culled iguanas for payment purposes must be done by marking the carcasses, photographing them and sending the photos to the cull manager. Before signing any contract for large-scale culling, the DoE will need to see proof of eligibility, such as a Caymanian passport or PR stamp, voter registration card or a T&B licence, and will need to make a copy of a photo ID with a local address, such as a current driver’s licence.
Anyone interested in culling green iguanas on a smaller scale will be able to participate in the Green Iguana Raffle, where raffle tickets for a twice-monthly cash prize will be issued for every 10 iguanas culled.
“An attempt to involve the community at large with the raffle has the potential to scale up culling operations considerably,” Burton said, explaining that it is unlikely that the formal cull contractors alone will be able to reach the scale needed to make a real impact on the population growth trajectory.
Contractors cannot participate in the raffle. Raffle registration by email will begin on 26 April, officials said. Raffle cullers will also be held to the same rules as the contractors.
Registration for contractors will be at the Department of Environment, North Sound Road, and will be open from 10am until 7pm. Additional registration days will follow as necessary.