Green iguana cull needs $7m cash injection

| 03/09/2018 | 50 Comments
Green iguana cull

Invasive green iguana

(CNS): The recent request for information (RFI) to discover the capacity of local cullers to significantly reduce the population of invasive green iguanas revealed that there are enough people willing and able to take on the challenge but the government will need to properly fund the multi-year cull in order to ensure its success. Speaking to the media on Friday, Fred Burton, who is heading the project, said the target is to cull around 1.4 million iguanas between October and the end of next year, so that more are killed than are hatched in that time.

He said the budget will need to be increased by around $7 million to meet that target, but with the necessary cash he is confident that the cull would work.

The Department of Environment is now embarking on a request for proposals (RFP) for a payroll and administration team to coordinate the cull. The RFI, coupled with the information that the DoE collected during the trial culls of the last two years, has painted a full picture about how to tackle the invasive iguana that is devastating the Cayman Islands’ flora and becoming a serious threat to the local environment.

But the cullers are not prepared to work for less than $5 for each iguana, especially since the going rate in the private sector is as much as $10 per head. The green iguana cull project will therefore need a huge cash injection in order to reach the target over the 14-month period.

In order to pay the bounty on the estimated 1.4 million iguanas, to establish a processing unit at the landfill and finance the administration, the estimated costs for the whole project is around $9.3 milllion. But with only $2.2 million in their budget, the department has had to seek a significant cash injection.

Burton, the director of the DoE Terrestrial Research Unit, explained that if the project is not properly funded it will be a waste of public cash because the critical issue is to start removing green iguanas at a much faster rate than they can reproduce. With around two million believed to be on the island, the estimate to break the back of the problem is huge.

“It is very important that we reach the specific targets,” he said. “If we don’t kill a certain number over a certain time it won’t be successful.”

Each individual culler, once registered, will have to commit to killing at the very least 5,000 iguanas per year. However, Burton said that during the RFI several cullers said they could do much more than that, suggesting that each team could remove more than 50,000 per year, which means that with enough people involved, the target, although enormous, is not impossible.

“There are cullers indicating they will be setting up operations with significant numbers of staff,” he said. “There is a mix of companies prepared to cull large numbers of iguanas and some who are able to cull that minimum number.”

He explained that cullers will be given targets that will be subject to review, and to ensure people remain committed, part of the $5 bounty will be withheld until monthly and annual targets are met and then paid retrospectively as a bonus.

Following the approval of the cull business case by the ministry, which was completed by the DoE’s in-house team, the RFP was launched last week. It is asking new or existing management or administration companies to bid on the contract to oversee and coordinate the teams of cullers, count the iguanas that have been killed, ensure everyone is paid in a timely fashion. They would also have to ensure that the cullers meet their target and follow the cull rules, and that the disposal of the iguanas is properly managed.

One of the major challenges of the green iguana cull is that of diminishing returns: right now there is money to be made for the cullers but once the population starts to go down, the iguanas will be harder to find. Burton noted that when the cull goes into 2020, the target will be smaller “but the effort to reach it will be higher”.

He said the cull at that point may cost about the same as the first year but for less iguanas because of the increasing difficulty in finding them.

Details of the cull manager contract and full RFP are available on the government’s procurement website

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (50)

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  1. Stephen D'Alessandro says:

    How do u kill the green iguanas ? Gun?

  2. My feelings says:

    I hate to kill these lizards. When they see us, they look so scared. They want to eat like everybody else. And they are very sensitive to pain. I sometimes wonder if bad karma will come on me if I hurt one of them. I’m just a nature lover. Could we not capture them and put them in a zone off area?

    • Anonymous says:

      Sadly, you are in a minority. Most people will kill or bulldoze anything if they’re afraid they may not have money, money, money.

    • Anonymous says:

      If we dont kill them the blue iguanas may go extinct.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Let’s go culling.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Foolishness abounds here.

    They’re an invasive pest, they need to be culled. They will destroy plenty, given the chance to become even more established.

    $7m seems a lot now? Yes, it would’ve been easier to nip it in the bud, but that $7m is money will spent if it works. The “money should be spent here” arguments don’t work. One doesn’t preclude another from taking place. We can still kill green iguanas and complete JGHS.

    $5 per head is fine. It should be easy money at the start, but will get harder to make a living as time goes by. As for being tougher than domestic work, errrr, it’s really not comparable. I’m sure traipsing through mangrove in the Caribbean heat is just soooooo easy, then having to pick up and store the bodies.

    • Jotnar says:

      Here’s an idea. Rather than give the private sector $5 a skull and worry that they won’t see the job through once the pay off gets harder to harvest, why doesn’t DOE employ 50 ex service people with firearms training at $20 an hour and have them kill iguanas full time. They can train up any Caymanians wanting to join. Given the numbers of Gurkhas we have here working for the security industry at minimum wage that should be a walk in the park.

      Say 50 Caymanians join in – still only$4.2 million for a full year of shooting. No worries about private holders of air rifles or firearms, and no worries about private sector pulling out after the easy money is gone. Hell, you can even offer bonuses for volume. Each guy only has to kill just over 50 a day and you hit target and save the tax payer $5 million.

      Of course the individuals bidding for these lucrative contracts and planning to pay minimum wage to unskilled labor from overseas who don’t know one end of a firearm from another would be mad, and their “sponsors” would not get their slice.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Step up dart, the greenies are eating your island.

  6. BeaumontZodecloun says:

    “But the cullers are not prepared to work for less than $5 for each iguana, especially since the going rate in the private sector is as much as $10 per head.”

    Gee, I wonder, wonder which cullers these were, that aren’t happy with the outrageous price of $5 per iguana, regardless of size! At least pay bounty on the weight!

    Listen, the culling companies don’t have an interest in hunting out the green iguanas, but an interest in perpetuating their income.

    The ONLY solution that is sensible is to make it easier and cheaper (102% duty on air rifles!!!) for vetted, law-abiding citizens to acquire low-power air rifles and pellets, and fix the problem one and for all!

    Volunteer teams of people who actually care about this problem is the only thing that has worked at all so far, and it’s the only thing that will work in the future, IF we can make it easier for hunters to hunt!

    It’s just that simple.

  7. Anonymous says:

    50000 kills per year minimum at 5$ a kill ?
    These guys make 25k a year.
    Isn’t that a bit to high.
    A domestic helper gets half of that and that work is a lot harder.
    Bring it down to 2$, so no need to trow away 7 million.

    • Anonymous says:

      According to previous reports that’s what DoE tried last year. $3 per head actually. And they didn’t get enough people signing up. So they had to raise the price this year.

    • Anonymous says:

      50,000 kills at $5 per head would be $250,000 a year…where do I apply?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Now THAT’S millions well spent…. my only suggestion would be to spend another 20 million on an EIA before doing, it just in case this could affect global warming.

  9. Anonymous says:

    i have zero faith in the civil service. bring in expert expats to find a solution

  10. Anonymous says:

    $7 Million – Ludicrous!

  11. KMR says:

    Let me get this straight…

    10+ years since the construction of JGHS & it has no completion date set
    Statistics still show that students are graduating not fully comprehending the basic reading, writing & arithmetic due to the Education system or lack thereof
    Persons are still losing their homes as the cost of living continues to increase
    Children are still attending school hungry & staying hungry as their parents are the high percentage of Caymanians still unemployed
    Mental Health facility desperately needed with more cases coming to light

    But yet 7 million Cayman Islands dollars has been budgeted towards culling of green Iguanas…Government has proven over & over to us that their priority is not for pressing matters of these Islands!

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is madness, put the money into a mandatory pellet gun proficiency training program and slacken the red tape for anyone wanting to own a pellet gun under a certain muzzle velocity like UK does. Are we all stupid or what?

    Sounds like someone in CIG has a personal stake in this and wants a chunk of that 7M$ in their greedy hands. My crystal ball says in a year the fund will be needing another multi million $ funding without any significant decline in these invasive pests.

    Seems like CIG don’t want to sort this out as it’s another car in their gravy train. We are being treated like school kids. Stupid is as stupid does.

    • Anonymous1 says:

      The repercussions to your suggestion:

      #1. Opportunists will use the pellet guns to commit crimes.

      #2. Police Commissioner will request arming all uniform police officers.

      #3. Then outspoken civilians will request civilians arm themselves.


      Nah I think its best you don’t relax the Firearms Law.

      • Fred the Piemaker says:

        Because the UK is flooded with people committing major crimes with pellet guns, all police armed as a result, and civilians actively lobbying for full firearms licences. Right. In case you haven’t noticed criminals here don’t seem to have any difficulty getting firearms as it is, and those that can’t quite happy to simply use flare pistols – way more concealable than an air rifle. Get a sense of proportion.

  13. Anonymous says:

    So no enforcement of marine poaching, illegal operators at the Sandbar, illegal coastal construction etc..
    But the doe want $7 million on top of the $2 million they already have. Yet it’s chaos out there and no one getting a grip on it.
    Can some one tell me why this hasn’t been taken up by a private pest control contractor who would charge property owners to control a pest as they do with roaches, termites etc..
    Exactly what indigenous flora are they destroying, surely the flora they enjoy is the imported stuff from Florida? Apart from crapping everywhere, what is the precise reason and evidence for spending such a huge amount of public money?
    We needs to look at doe management and ask where the enforcement has disappeared to.

    • Anonymous says:

      We need new leadership of DoE, fresh ideas and a realistic “what should be really doing?”

  14. culler mullah says:

    Connections will be hard at work here, so that the favoured few can make an awful lot of money i.e. “administration companies”. with civil service owners.What exactly are we going to do with 1.4 million dead iguanas?., pending disposal someone will need to keep a close eye on them in case they reappear somwhere else and are double counted.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Let’s cull the wild chickens while they are at it.

  16. Anon says:

    This surely is a joke, right?

  17. Nick says:

    Why doesn’t government inject that 7 mill into schools tht are out here asking the public to donate for schools supplies instead of this foolishness. Low the Rass iguanas. They are jus trying to live as are we. Smh gov always finds dumb ways to spend. Kmt

  18. Anonymous says:

    It would be great to have a separate team that can get to their burrows/nests and destroy the eggs. Besides being much more humane, this would make a bigger dent in the population as well.
    It’s the same with anything, once you know what to look for, the hunt becomes quite easy.

  19. ROATAN don't KILL them says:

    From this video, what I don’t understand is how in Honduras on the island Roatan – the people there tolerate and cope with them (kill them only for food) and the island still has its vegetation.

    [CNS note: Green iguanas are indigenous to Honduras and therefore offer no threat to the local flora and fauna there.]

    Maybe our government should study or consider and explore why it is that the iguanas over there are not over populating the island!

    See @ 2:15 in –


    To keep Iguanas out of your yard, you don’t have to kill or club them. You can easily run away Iguanas from your fruit trees by decorating your trees with wind chimes or reflectors. The iguanas hate these things and stay far away from them. It really works. You can make reflectors from CDs and tye cords/ hooks, and hang them on areas you know where they love to climb. Its very easy and fun to do, and its very decorating. Also, they don’t like certain spice or garlic scents. You can spray certain scents on your fruit trees. But I find chiming reflectors more effective.

    Remember the ole saying:
    “there is more than one way to skin a cat” 😉

    • Anonymous says:

      So it has to look and sound like Christmas all year round? 4 months of it at year end is too much already…

      • Prospect says:

        Swell idea. At least more people will have the Christmas spirit of giving. We use to generous. Perhaps why God sent the iguanas. We not sharing. So somebody have to eat the mangoes and fruits.

    • Anonymous says:

      CNS, that makes absolutely no sense.
      Perhaps green iguanas just love Cayman?

    • philip says:

      simple, because they were hunted for their meat to pretty much extinction in Honduras, seams strange to me that with all the Honduran fishing boats going back empty that our government and the Honduran government could not find a way transport live iguanas back, in Le Ceiba the WWF has assisted with funds to try to get the green Iguana population back.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t understand the CNS comment about igs not posing a threat to the local flora and fauna in Honduras… what do they eat? If they’re indigenous they must like something about Honduras to bother staying there.

    • Anonymous says:

      You must be the most ignorant, uneducated thing I’ve ever read post on this forum. You show a peting Zoe that an individual in Honduras is profiting from and try to compare it to our iguana problems in cayman!!! Guess you don’t own or reside in a decent dwelling, iguana crap on your door step or other must be the norm. Spend a few dollars an support the botanic park here in cayman an see the BLUE iguanas and understand how docile and tame they are. Then go back to your beloved Honduras and see how wild your green iguanas are. They are a pest to society, destroying everything they come across. Only the ignorant and apartment bound renters don’t seem to mind the invasive, unappreciative unsanitary green iguanas. Tell me the last time you had a native blue iguana crap on your door step or better you self!!!! Do the native blues eat your agricultural crops in droves? Only the ignorant, and un effected would post such foolishness,


      “Living in the current time and place”

    • Anonymous says:

      CNS, Roatan’s flora is, for all practical purposes, identical to Cayman’s, so is most of the fauna.

  20. MM says:

    Another fine example of “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure”.

    Why is it that in Cayman we wait quietly until a situation reaches epidemic proportions before we even begin exploring options to resolve it?

    • Anonymous says:

      To MM. At last a short and sensible response. If only someone would take heed. There is hope for the world!

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry to say… But that’s the only time it is profitable.

    • Jennifer says:

      Beacause many years ago a certain group of people did not want anyone to harm the iguanas and the lobbied for laws to pass on our books to imprisoned and fine anyone who killed an iguana whether green or blue. Now several years later, the same group are spearheading the cull and is in charge of the $7M. If I’m thinking right, clearly there’s a conflict here.

      • MM says:

        Actually, if I remember correctly, the issue was because our laws protected “iguanas” without specifying “Blue Iguana” etc and therefore it made killing any type of iguana completely illegal. The law was changed when the people finally brought the situation to the attention of our sleeping politicians and demanded rectification so that culling could legally proceed without fear of prosecution.

        Our people wait for the politicians to bring the solutions and suggestions for legislative changes as if that is what they have actually been elected for; they are actually not in the LA to tell us what is good for us; WE elect them so that they can provide the chain of communication we commons need to have legislation put in place to ensure the proper functioning of our country.

        It is OUR responsibility, as the people, to research and bring sensible proposals to the Government and seek support from other citizens in order to back our proposal. Our MLAs cannot see much of our world from their leather seats, so it is our job to keep them informed or what is affecting us.

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