Sugar-glider posed serious eco-threat

| 20/10/2017 | 48 Comments
Cayman News Service

Jimel McLean

(CNS): The case against two people arrested by customs for attempting to smuggle a sugar-glider into the Cayman Islands appears stalled, but conservationists have raised concerns about the dangers posed by the importation of exotic alien species to the native and indigenous flora and fauna and what could have happened if the creature in this case had made its way past the authorities. Reports in the Australian press this week highlighted the real danger sugar-gliders now pose to the endangered swift parrot in Tasmania, which could have translated to a real threat to Cayman’s national bird. 

The furry predator has caused a real problem for conservationists on Tasmania. Because the sugar-glider has a taste for parrots, eating the eggs and chicks, it has pursued them to the brink of extinction. Costly investments have now been made in nesting boxes that close at night in an effort to try to keep the nocturnal predators away from the native bird.

Christine Rose-Smyth, the chair of the National Conservation Council, confirmed this week, following questions about the smuggling issue, that no one had approached the NCC about import licences for the gliders and that it was extremely unlikely, given the threat they would pose to the local parrots, that such an application would ever be approved. She urged people to consider the significant impact any alien species can have on the native and indigenous flora and fauna before they try to bring in what people think are cute pets.

It also became clear at Tuesday’s NCC meeting that neither the Department of Environment nor the council had been informed of what had happened to the animal, which was seized by customs after the couple were arrested. They had been attempting to bring it into the islands on a Cayman Airways flight in June, but the authorities were alerted after the animal escaped from inside a pocket.

Despite their arrest and the very public emergence of the sugar-glider on the aircraft, the case does not appear to have advanced since the arrest. No one has been charged and 31-year-old Jimel McLean, the son of Arden McLean, the MLA for East End, and a 26-year-old woman have been bailed by customs five times as they await a decision from the director of public prosecutions about the attempted smuggling.

The couple are due to return to customs next week.

Tags: , , ,

Category: Crime, Customs

Comments (48)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Sugar gliders? Nah hunny, just give me a sugar daddy…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Māori recipie

    1 oz shrimp chopped
    3/4 cup egg substitute
    1 cup onion, chopped
    3 cups mushrooms
    1 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
    1 cup asparagus olive oil
    1 steamed sugar glider, deskinned, deboned and detailed

    in a medium nonstick saute pan, heat oil. add asparagus to pan and cook for 1 minute then add onion and mushrooms. place shrimp in pan and cook for 1 minute. pour egg substitute into pan. place sugar glider into pan. place rest of ingedients into pan. stir fry for 5 minutes. serve hot. makes 4 servings.. enjoy!

  3. Anonymous says:

    What poses a serious threat is the blatant destruction of the environment. Populating our island with cute little animals isn’t the threat.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Oh Christ it’s a damn Sugar Glider that was probably going
    To be a pet, don’t you need two of them
    For them to breed ? Yes I appreciate the concern for the environment but we are about to dredge up GT Harbour and I don’t hear a huge outcry from the Conservation Council about that!

  5. Anonymous says:

    The illegal importation of invasive species should concern all Caymanians. The damage by the green iguana and the lion fish show the real dangers and both were not introduced intentionally.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It just show the proof that these idiots TSA agents at Miami airport did not do their job properly when searching people…How many bullets or guns or illegal pets got through to cayman from Miami.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry but sugar gliders are only illegal on your end so you have to stop them at your end. The US does not care if they are on outbound planes so long as they are in a carrier.

      • Anonymous says:

        Then I hope escape snake or spider will bit your leg while you are on the plane…then you will die!

    • Anonymous says:

      The sugar glider is not illegal in Miami.

  7. Unison says:

    Do they eat iguanas eggs? ?

  8. Anonymous says:

    your farmers are allowed to shoot parrots.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’d rather be overrun with sugar gliders than the iguanas or gangsters that nobody gave a damn about.

  10. West bay Premier says:

    I would say that the illegal sugar gliders should be taken back to where they came from, and if the owner don’t want to leave them they can stay with them there . But Cayman Islands cannot afford to let another invasive and destructive species to over populate the Islands like the green iguana. And forget about who I am, not me personally.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Cns please find out what’s happening. The public needs to know where these animals are

  12. Anonymous says:


  13. a skilpot says:

    We only have to look as far as the green iguanas that are now overrunning Cayman to see the danger a non-native species can be. I hope the authorities don’t wait as long to move on this as they did on the iguanas – until they are eating plants, fruit, birds, messing up the sides of buildings with their feces, defecating on lawns, in pools etc., etc. And now we have to expend thousands of dollars to try to eradicate them and it’s highly unlikely we ever will.

    • Uncle John says:

      I don’t see anything being done to get rid of the green iguanas that are destroying the environment and yet the department of Environment want another six million dollars of the people money to do nothing with but to have cocktails partys and to stop the most needed roads and to pay someone to count the parrots and iguanas which is impossible to do, that’s why I’m happy that the government is not answering their calls or meeting with them to waste time and money with them!!!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    CNS why are comments not closed on this matter. This is an ongoing investigation which may or may not result in charges being brought. All other matters that are awaiting possible charges and are not yet before the courts or in the courts do not have open comments. Why is this matter any different??

    CNS: I am not allowing comments on the suspects for the reasons you state, but the article was on the broader subject of importation of alien species, so I am allowing some comments.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Let’s keep on eye on this to ensure that prosecution goes forward PLEASE!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Also let us not sweep under the carpet that this animal got loose on a Cayman Airways aircraft in flight to Grand Cayman.

    Surely there should also be charges laid in connection with endangerment of an aircraft and/or its passengers and crew in flight!

    • Mogwai says:

      It’s was a Sugar glider, not a Gremlin …

      • Anonymous says:

        Ok smart a$$ … small rodent on plane escapes …. finds its way into the wire corridors and begins chewing through a few … do you want to be up there when the pilot loses control of the flaps or rudder? A few years ago a flight in Cyprus was aborted after a rat was spotted running through the plane. Unrestrained animals on planes can present very real safety issues.

        • Anonymous says:

          Your ignorance is showing!
          1 – Sugar Gliders aren’t rodents, they are marsupials.
          2 – Sugar Gliders only have 2 very pointy TIny needle like teeth. It takes mine a month to chew a small hole through a normal piece of felt cloth. They can’t chew metal and it would take at least a day (probably WAY more) of continuous work to chew through wire insulation in o e little spot.
          3 – The Adiabatic lapse rate is 2 degrees per thousand feet. That means that a flight to 10,000 feet would mean a temperature drop of 20 degrees below ground temps outside of the passenger cabin. IF the animal could get outside the passenger cabin it probably wouldn’t survive the trip.

          But they are a serious danger to the wildlife balance! A caterpillar wiped out an entire insect species not to mention the decimation of an entire pulp and paper industry on the island of Newfoundland in Canada. Those sweet little omnivore Sugar Gliders are known to hunt eggs, small lizards and birds as well as insects so they would throw the balance off on a new island if not strictly controlled, IF they could survive without their stable foods found ONLY in Australia or specially formulated in manufactured foods for glider owners.

      • Anonymous says:

        And in their own environment, a gremlin is just a gremlin.

      • Anonymous says:

        No way you could carry a Gremlin car on board. It would have to be checked. ??

    • annonymous says:

      Cayman Airways is not responsible for screening passengers. That job fall under the responsibility of Customs in Miami and clearly they messed up so Cayman Airways should not be held responsible.

      The airline couldn’t know that a passenger would bring the animal on their plane because they would expect that all passengers would be properly screened.

    • Anonymous says:

      hysterical much?


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