Cullers bag 8,500 iguanas as DoE mulls options

| 01/09/2017 | 74 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): Around 8,500 green iguanas have been culled over the last few months since a pilot seasonal cull of the invasive species began on Grand Cayman in May. The Department of Environment has announced an extension of the cull and said registered cullers will be able to continue bagging the pesky reptiles, at $2 a head, until the end of November. However, the raffle, which has had a limited response, ended Thursday.

Officials have confirmed that other ideas on controlling the explosion in the number of iguanas, which are munching their way through the local vegetation at an alarming rate, are being considered but funding remains a major obstacle.

Fred Burton, the director of the DoE’s terrestrial unit, said that he will be meeting with ministry officials soon to consider other options. He explained that the budget allocation for this seasonal cull was never enough to make any real impact on the numbers but gave the DoE and its researchers an opportunity to consider options and try things out.

The raffle came in for criticism in the Legislative Assembly last week, when the premier said that more effective ways of reducing the population, which could be approaching as many as a million this year, were being considered.

The estimates of the staggering number of greens on Grand Cayman are based on last year’s count, but another survey of the population has been going on during the current breeding season and the results are expected later this year. However, with the numbers increasing rapidly, a concerted effort and substantial investment in the cull will be needed to make a meaningful impact, Burton warned. While eradication is now out of the question, given the massive population, the aim is to at least reverse the growing trend and reduce the numbers to a more manageable level.

Burton said this would not be easy, and although the DoE is going to propose a new more effective approach, it will need commitment from government and the business community. He said the full details of the new plan will be revealed if the proposals are approved.

“The viability of the plan will depend on an adequate budget being allocated, the policy steps necessary to make the work possible and business minded people rising to the challenge and financial opportunity,” Burton said.

With a budget of around $300,000 for the cull and research work this season, Burton said that they had added the raffle proposal to the cull as a way to supplement the work of the official cullers. The aim was to allow volunteers and people concerned about the impact the greens are having on the environment a way to get something for their efforts. But given the lack of interest, he said that the one and only draw for the few people who have taken part will take place shortly, enabling someone to win the $1,000 prize.

Despite comments in the LA last week from the opposition leader that it should be a simple process, there are in fact many challenges to the cull. The first pilot demonstrated that the job was both chaotic and gruesome and that the DoE is not staffed to cope with a large number of cullers randomly bringing the dead iguanas to the department to collect payment.

The aims of the DoE have been to cull the animals as cleanly and humanely as possible and ensure their proper disposal. At the same time they want to ensure the cullers are paid in a fair and timely manner for the animals they kill.

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (74)

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  1. Unison says:

    Again … everybody is talking about CULLING!
    I dont think thats a good solution.

    Nobody is talking about opening a scientific lab or have scientists research and experiment on them to reduce their population (like they did to the mosquitoes).

    The easy way of killing them will turn out more costly than we anticipated ?

    • Anonymous says:

      I know Unison! I think we should submerge the island and drown them! This CULLING isn’t working! Unison for Premier!

    • Sharkey says:

      The hunters in the USA are big on hunting. Why don’t the Government start hunting tournaments on the iguana top prize for heaviest quantity $5,000 , and $3,000 for heaviest one and few more good prizes for the week. And lot more prizes from private sector could be offered . And Government bring in the air guns and pellets . Then you that want to enter the tournament get to use the gun but have to buy the pellets .

      50 good shooters could do away with 100,000 in one or two days . Something needs to done in quantity bases is the only way the iguana population can be wiped out .

      But just look at how DOE is wasting money , the cull brought in 8,500 @ $2.00 per head that’s $17,000. And still have the over population problem .

  2. Wa bout da eggs! says:

    Finding where they lay eggs and destroying them before they hatch will help!

  3. Brandon Anthony Bernard says:

    $300k could have been used to pay 7-8 full time salaries… There are people out there in need of jobs to provide for their families. I say create some iguana culler positions and equip them with the tools they need to get the job done. People would be able to call the DoE to schedule thier property to be culled, I’m sure most people wouldn’t even mind paying a small fee for their services, which would bring money back into the government’s coffers to keep the program going. Keeping the bounty system won’t do much, as the money will eventually run out without creating any meaningful decrease in the population.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yup, that was part of the the thinking of the public cull, find ways to encourage people who would do the job to do it but with less Govt. overhead than actually hiring people involves (HR, health & pension, etc.) and without directly competing with the couple of persons who have taken the initiative to start their own business doing this (with the proper T&B Licence). (Those persons/companies could go for the separate culling contract.)

  4. Anonymous says:

    Are blow guns illegal here?

  5. Anonymous says:

    start by culling the male iguanas…..

  6. Oh Boy! says:

    What about traps? I am sure that there must be some way to lure these destructive animals into some kind of a pen trap (large ones in the wild and smaller ones in the yards) maybe similar to the fish pot where they can get in but not out, although they are considerably more creative than a fish, and then they will have to be disposed of by some means shooting or poisoning etc. Just a thought.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Lift the ban on BB and pellet guns ant 8500 would be dead in a week.

  8. Elvis says:

    Prison culling team , free culling all year round

  9. Is it coz I is green? says:

    In all truth what impact does the green iguana really have on us?
    We don’t have a thriving agriculture sector that the iguanas are destroying like locusts could.

    We hear they eat blue iguana eggs but I would not be surprised if human interference is what killed the blues years ago just like we’re decimating the greens now. Through ignorance and “them being a pest”.

    Greens eat flowers and some bugs. And crap all over the place. And run across the road at inconvenient times. But other than that what is the downside to them? They don’t make a noise, don’t attack, are not poisonous and don’t seem to carry disease. What do we really have against this species?

    If the Blues population developed again to the levels of greens and have the same habits as the greens, would we have the same cull theory?

    For all we know greens may have a crucial role in the ecosystem. could we be we marketing them like the Galapagos marine iguanas or the Komodo dragons. Instead we’re pro-blues, spending money and attention on breeding a blue species and spending money and attention on killing a green species.

    For such a “christian god fearing island” we’re certainly very quick to cast a stone at anything that in reality causes us little harm.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you have any clue how many bird eggs they eat?

    • yadda yadda says:

      Good grief you are ignorant. What is next, you gonna create the NAAGI?!?

    • Nunya says:

      Have you see how much they have multiplied in a short time – they have no natural predators so the infestation will only get worse.

      • Anonymous says:

        Throughout history the introduction of an invasive species has never ended well… think cane toads in Australia as just one of many classic examples. Whilst the impact of Green Iguanas in Cayman may not be fully known you can be guaranteed that whatever the impact, however great or small, will not be a positive impact!

    • Anonymous says:

      Can’t tell if this was written in irony or just plain ignorance

  10. Anonymous says:

    $300k could buy two new patrol boats for doe and help stop the disgusting levels of poaching going on around our coastline.
    Instead, some idiot has decided that spending this huge chunk of change on a pointless cull is good value for money.
    This waste of time and money speaks volumes about the DOE management.

    • Anonymous says:

      No, it shows that you’re making a thoughtless argument to try and bash the DoE. By your argument everyone should only do what you think is most important – anti-poaching as opposed to anti-pest patrols was your red herring. But it would be more logical to argue that about a lot of other things, since $300K could buy school lunches or pay for dialysis for needy people, or more garbage collection, or whatever you think is more important than pest control. Every Government (and personal) programme (outlay of money) is a balance between good goals (pest control, poaching patrols, health services, school lunches, garbage disposal, etc.) and always will be. Which is why you never see a Govt., or an individual, only doing a couple of things and nothing else – as you have implied they should. Except that wasn’t really your attempted point, was it? Your point was to attack the DoE. Own it.

  11. Anonymous says:

    What a joke, the DOE don’t have enough boats, trucks or officers to enforce the laws against poachers, but they happy to waste money on a stupid cull that will never work.
    More iguanas are killed on the damn roads on a daily basis than are killed by this stupid culling programme.
    Spend the money where it’s needed and save our islands from the theives who would destroy our natural environment for personal gain.

  12. Unison says:


    I think culling them wastes time and money. Remember each female iguana can lay up to 30 to 70 eggs. Its easy to kill the big ones, but the small lizard size ones ??? Its just a waste of time when you got them multiplying faster than you can shoot.

    So what is the solution?

    Here is where I think we need to open a lab of scientific research on the iguanas. Learn how they survive, reproduce, and ways on how we can stop them from laying so much eggs. We need to come up with ideas. Open a lab like how we have one for mosquitoes and see we have learnt how to eradicate mosquitoes without directly killing them. IDEAS LIKE – Can we somehow make artificial trees that releases scent and attract iguanas, and feed the lizard with a treatment that stops them from reproducing? We have to study nature and come with clever ideas.



  13. this is becoming nothing more than a joke now.I have seen literally hundreds of baby greens along many sections of roads and they will keep on going until they totally over run this country.I totally blame Govt for this mess as they were told about this some 10 years ago and NOTHING has been done.As usual too little too late will be the cry and no solution in sight.Have fishermen thought about using them for bait?Might work.Lets hope the Cayman Blues are not affected as that would be a disaster after bringing them back from extinction.

    • Anonymous says:

      Nothing wants to eat that crap, fish included.

    • Anonymous says:

      True, Peter – except it is now much more than 10 years since we were asking the politicians to please make a simple change to the Law and qualify it as only the “Blue” Iguana that was protected. But complete inertia by all until it is now too late. Of course the blame goes back a little further, to not prohibiting pet stores and thugs from bringing them into the Island in the first place. This failure to enforce our laws continues and grows worse daily – you need go no farther than our roads to see it. Or Planning and Environmental matters – a la Houston. But we do not have a ‘Federal Government’ to bail us out, as they are now doing, after profiting the profits fro short termism.

    • Cayguy says:

      Agree with Milburn here. Govt sat on their hands for donky years with no action plans. Back in the day, they were way more prevalent mostly in WB, now they have exploded across the island and even sister islands.

  14. Cecil says:

    Air rifles against the iguanas? You gotta be joking? A more comprehensive plan is required that father and son in the bush shooting at each other. If government and powers to be wish to eradicate these pests, then turn to other Caribbean nations for help. Lot more cheaper and safer than the suggestions I am reading. In Honduras iguanas are on the endangered list specie, why? Fred do you know? Our neighbors in Jamaica, do they have an iguana problem and I assure you I have not crossed a Jamaica yet that said they would eat an iguana. So instead of throwing away people’s money, sit down with people in other countries and find out what they did and are doing right. Just seems a bit ridiculous of the carnival that is going on and the thoughts that air rifles are going to solve this problems. They are more of them than us on this island and that is fact.

    Final thought, I have three pomaranians and no iguana problem in my pool, in my garden or near my house and guess what, no thieves either. Total annual costs with vet bill $1,500.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Work for the unemployed?

  16. Southsounder says:

    For heavens sake these things are completely out of control, license anyone who wants to buy an air rifle and let us deal with these pests on our own properties…its that simple, its not going to lead to a spate of bank robberies and it wont cost the government a penny.
    They have no workable plan to eradicate them, we are after all talking of more than a million now!

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe no bank robberies, but the sale of eye patches is likely to soar!

    • Unison says:

      Hello! … if you allow an imitation firearm to get easily into the hands of the thugs and crooks we have around here, then you just created MORE PEST!

      And don’t tell me that it is not going to lead to a spate of bank robberies … because you don’t know!

      NOT A GOOD IDEA :/

    • Too late to run says:

      Exactly. License or legalize airguns and regular households can put a big dent in the problem (pun intended). Just do it. We can’t even bring in catapults for heaven’s sake.

      • Jonny says:

        Agreed I would kill a few everyday

        • Anonymous says:

          Just for fun. If 1,000 people killed 5-10 a day we would start making a dent in the problem. I do my part by accidentally getting one or two a week on the road.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I say nuke ’em from orbit. It is the only way to be sure.

  18. Anonymous says:

    No offense to the cullers, but if this published cull number (8,500) is accurate, then it is a poster of what’s wrong with the plan. 8,500 during peak of the hatching season for these critters is jokes without laughter. 8,500 is the amount you could spot if you walked a street or two in Prospect, Newlands or a slew of other neighborhoods.. and that’s not kidding. I commend those taking active actions but this is a highway to nowhere in terms of solving this problem. As a nation, we either want to get rid of these pests or we don’t but these hokey-pokey efforts won’t do. There’s a stark reality that these critters are likely here to stay! If nothing else, we can hope that government and the populous at large will think twice about bringing ‘pets’ to the island that ultimately can become pests.

    • Anonymous says:

      Better to just adopt them as a national symbol, draw one up with an eye patch and a stump leg and just get on with destroying all their habitat by ripping out bush and mangroves and building hotels and places to get drunk.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wrong iggie. The greens quite like hotels with their nice yards, and high marmaran sides to run up to hide from the groundsman, and pools to go for a ‘swim’ in.

      • Sharkey says:

        5:22 pm , your comment sounds like the guy from West bay that sold his bicycle rim to buy the tire .

  19. Anonymous says:

    I ran over 8 last month.. Where do i collect my money?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Wow! look at that, it’s almost as if selective hunting is beneficial for the environment. People bash hunting and especially spearfishing, but who do you turn to bring balance to the food chain? The hunters.

  21. Anonymous says:

    What a bunch of lug heads! Just legalize small caliber pellet guns and every 10 year old and his Dad will be wasting these pesty things! Legalize a firearm that cant kill humans.

  22. johnnyfever says:

    I agree, Do Not End this program. The government needs to market this more effectively if they want more participants. First, there could be weekend events like the most Iguana’s bagged win a prize. Or the longest Iguana caught wins an extra $20 or something along these lines.

    If the budget is 300k then all options have not been exhausted. Also the hotel companies might be persuaded to add a small amount to the eradication program to keep it going. If someone can be employed in Caymana Bay to pick up dead Iguanas from roadways, then that money would be better spent eradicating them on the rest of the island.

    In as little as a few years, if weekend events and activities took place, and people saw the financial benefit of killing them, their numbers would be greatly reduced.

  23. Anonymous says:

    DoE could teach a humane “culling course” to community volunteers, where graduates are allowed to go to gun range and demonstrate competency. Those that are referred back to DoE from Gun Club can be given provisional permission to import licensed 0.22cal lead bead pellet rifles (no pistols). Kind of like the Lionfish culling course. No head bounty required. DoE could spray the rifles bright orange if they wanted and recall them back when the cull effort is evaluated or at any time of their choosing. We aren’t even scratching the surface on this problem and need to try something else.

    • Mokes-for-all says:

      Or we could simply treat adults as adults, and allow anyone over the age of 18 to purchase and operate an air rifle, .177 or .22 calibre, as they do in the UK. Licence them if you feel you have to (a licence is not required in the UK). Gun safety courses can be held, to discuss the effective ranges of air rifles, the importance of a back-stop, and the dangers of missing your target (basic gun safety knowledge/rules). This will put the largest dent in the iguana population, at the least cost to government. In fact, it could add to the government’s coffers, as I would certainly be willing to renew an annual air rifle licence for a reasonable fee.

      • Anonymous says:

        Please please please do NOT turn a bunch of idiots loose with 22’s. Jesus!

      • Unison says:

        You do that and you will have to arm all police officers!

        Why? Opportunist will use the imitation firearms to commit crimes. And do you think police officers will have time to tell the difference?

    • Anonymous says:

      DoE has nothing to do with air rifles. (I’ve asked.) Send your suggestion somewhere else. (The Premier & Leader of Opposition were named in the article, maybe start their for a rule change.)

      • Debby does dullards says:

        Their means people as in their cars.
        There means a place as in over there by the tree.
        Anyone reading and learning?

    • Anonymous says:

      Air rifles would be a good option too

    • Anonymous says:

      How do they count them? Do they walk through a set route? Do they count the babies? If not why not just kill them on site when counting.
      Should i let my dog get them?

      • Anonymous says:

        They do a visual count at various points around Grand Cayman to get a population index for the whole island. (There’s probably margins of error and everything built in, but the details don’t get published to keep things simple.)

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