Cullers race to combat iguana hatchlings

| 09/09/2019 | 36 Comments
Cayman News Service
Fred Burton, manager of the DoE Terrestrial Unit

(CNS): With 885,383 green iguanas in the proverbial bag, the army of local cullers are now racing to keep pace with the invasive reptile’s breeding season. After a drop in the numbers culled during July and August, the Department of Environment is keen to ensure the cull remains on track now that the animals are reproducing. DoE researchers have also finished the fieldwork for the annual count and are currently evaluating results.

Officials said they expect to report the updated population estimates in October.

“We believe the new data will show a decline in those numbers,” said DoE Terrestrial Resources Unit Manager Fred Burton. “However, let no one believe that by the time we report these figures we will have culled all of the green iguanas remaining in Cayman. We must remember this year’s hatchlings are now emerging and the cullers are now in a race to keep pace with them.”  

For the last five years the DoE surveys and data evaluation have had the help of Dr Frank Rivera-Milan from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Between 2014 and 2018 the population increased five-fold, from 254,000 to 1.3 million at the last count.

The DoE has held three registration efforts for cullers since the cull began, with over 500 people and companies signing up. The cull is expected to continue through to the end of 2019, but Burton said funding to continue the cull over the next two years has yet to be confirmed.

“At this stage, the DoE and our cull management company, Cornwall Consulting Ltd, feel like we’ve done everything we can to register interested Caymanians to participate in the cull,” Burton said. “However, if anyone is still interested in signing up, they can head down to the landfill site between 8am and 5.30pm Monday to Saturday, as registration for the project has been left open-ended.”

All cull participants must be Caymanian and at least 18 years old. Participants who wish to use an air rifle to cull green iguanas must first obtain a licence for such device from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. Cullers must adhere to all laws and regulations existing in the Cayman Islands. The cull registration does not give anyone permission to enter private property without the property owner’s consent, and iguanas must be culled humanely.  

For updates on the Green Iguana Cull Project, visit the DoE website or contact DoE public education and outreach officer Brent Fuller on 244-5984/922-5514 or email

See Auntie’s answer on CNS Local Life: What to do about unwelcome cullers?

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (36)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s about time the Police stopped these cowboys from firing their rifles near roads and populated areas. Seeing a man strolling down the road with a rifle should be stopped for many reasons, safety first but what must overseas visitors think, and who the hell do they think they are anyway, Clint Eastwood?

    • Anonymous says:

      “but what must overseas visitors think”

      Um, most of our visitors come from the USA where many people open carry assault rifles on their backs to prove a point about gun rights.

      I’m quite sure a pellet rifle doesn’t even phase them.

      • Anonymous says:

        1:10 you got that right! In the USA a pellet gun isn’t even considered as a firearm and has little to no restrictions. You can go into most sporting goods stores and purchase them. As for 11:53’s comment – The cullers have a special condition on their firearms license allowing them to cull within 40 yards of a public road or in residential areas provided that they must not fire in the direction of any road or residence and have permission for the property of which they are culling on.

        • BeaumontZodecloun says:

          Thank you. You beat me to it. It’s important to know the parameters of the cullers. Now that we are to the hard-to-get green iguanas, the monthly numbers will decrease.

          I wonder how we are going to deal with all the green iguanas at the airport? When I have gone there, they have been numerous.

      • BeaumontZodecloun says:

        *faze* I gave you a thumbs up, however in the U.S. “many” people don’t open carry “assault rifles” (whatever your definition is) casually. Many people with CCW’s carry concealed, as is their right.

      • Anonymous says:


      • Sherry Cowell says:

        What do you think the feel when they are surrounded by iguana’s by the pool on their “million dollar” vacation?????

  2. Anonymous says:

    There are still a bunch of them on the new road that leads of the bypass into Cayman International School. I have been lucky to get a few with my car but I think they have adapted and run across the road..The dump is right there too so I guess that’s why they are so prolific in that area..Cullers go get them please!

  3. Anonymous says:

    i see less of them so the cull seems to be working.
    but the usual questions remain:
    who counted how were 885k iguanas counted?
    where are the 885k carcasses?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Lots of little ones at Rum Point, which is new. Come get ‘em.

  5. Anonymous says:

    All that money went to Caymanians. Don’t see your problem.

  6. Anonymous says:

    When will there be a chicken culling? Seriously, not joking. The island is infested with chickens and they seem to be overlooked.

    • BeaumontZodecloun says:

      cull them yourself. I do. All I can take care of is my own property. Make a chicken trap, catch them, kill them and eat them. No antibiotics, no growth hormone. Just pure chickeny goodness. Just like all our mummies cooked.

    • Anonymous says:

      Chickens dont pose a big environmental threat which is why they aren’t culled. The Iguanas eat local plant life and can scare nesting birds. They are also potential vectors for viruses that can hurt our iconic blue iguana population. That is why money is being put into their cull. Although the chickens are a pest they do not have a detrimental impact on our local wildlife.

    • Anonymous says:

      I woke up around 330am this morning and stood on my porch to hear the quiet. The number of roosters crowing was utterly amazing.
      They are just as much of a nuisance as the iguanas but I can assure you that nothing will be done about them.
      And that’s a shame. They spread disease just as much as rats do…

  7. Anonymous says:

    better hurry, the young uns are back!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Is the cull of these guys to blame for the explosion in the Ching Ching / chicken numbers? My guess is yes because the iguanas ate their eggs.

    • Anonymous says:

      Green Iguanas don’t eat protein, they are vegetarian.

      • BeaumontZodecloun says:

        Not entirely true. SIRI and Blue Iguanas are mostly vegetarian, but even then not entirely.

        Part of the environmental impact of the invasive green iguanas is that they eat the eggs of indigenous birds.

      • Anonymous says:

        2:45 Green Iguanas can occasionally be omnivorous actually and will eat eggs and small animals. They are, however, not responsible for the chicken and ching ching population increase. The ching chings have recently had their breeding season so you will see more of them around. As for the chickens.. well they just multiply anyway. Nothing around that naturally eats them other than the occasional dog.

        • Anonymous says:

          The word here being ‘occasionally’. It’s not normal or wide spread behaviour and doesn’t represent a large threat to Caymans birds.
          Cats, dogs, rats, cars and people on the other hand kill thousands.

      • Anonymous says:

        Not true I have seen them take down baby chickens with one bite swallowed whole

      • Anonymous says:

        Our neighbour has seen them eating baby birds right out of the nest in our garden, while the parent birds tried futilely to protect their babies. They are definitely a threat to our native birds. Very sad all around.

  9. Anonymous says:

    “Iguanas must be culled humanely”

    Tell me any one please, how do you kill anything humanely?

    To take a sentient beings life is humanly right?

    Ask you self how you would like to humanely die, as a human.
    ^(don’t take this personal everything is going to die eventually)

    adverb: humanely

    in a way that shows compassion or benevolence.
    “livestock have to be treated humanely”
    by inflicting the minimum of pain.
    “the dog was humanely destroyed”

    I am a Caymanian, 15 year vegan I strongly disagree with the ‘right’ that we can spend 4 million dollars to kill some iguanas when there’s no income housing for temp workers or natives.

    CIG loves to waste the publics money….
    885,383, at $5 per iguana= 4,276,915

    • BeaumontZodecloun says:

      Allow me a gentle reply. The green iguanas are invasive, and not indigenous to our country. They wreck the habitat of the native rock iguanas (both Blue and SIRI), and they reproduce at an alarming rate. If allowed to continue unabated, they will eat everything.

      Green iguanas like to eat that which you enjoy. They also fancy eggs from indigenous birds. They tend to localise around people.

      None of the cullers I know “enjoy” killing the green iguanas, but they, like me, feel it is necessary. It’s not the green iguanas’ fault they are more adapted to this environment than the native iguanas, but they have to go. Florida is struggling with this issue. Many places in Central America also.

      The green iguanas reproduce quickly and prolifically and overwhelm an ecology, as evidenced here in Grand Cayman; on the Sister Islands, various volunteer groups are keeping their numbers down.

      Killing humanely means a clean kill. If a culler is shooting, they should shoot and back up with a knife to the brain. If a culler is noosing, then once they are landed, the green iguana should be knifed in the brain. That is humane.

      This is really necessary, imo, for the preservation of our native iguanas’ habitat, and the overall sanctity of our lands.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks for your reply.

        There is other Animals(plants also) that are also invasive, we going to just destroy them also?

        Eat everything? Yes the farmers have a troubled time dealing with them, but they don’t eat everything just plants. Unlike chickens which will eat everything including there young. How about government assisted programs to help the farmers with the millions we spent to just kill them of.

        Sorry no I don’t agree with spending 5 million USD every year to kill some iguanas.

        Now to the shooting, I haven’t once seen an air rifle using for a iguana.
        Mostly a long stick and beaten at them from the tree and beaten on the ground until there kinda dead and leaved to finished dying in the back of the truck.

        Humans are more destructive to Cayman then any wild life here, so what are we going to do about that.

        Just kill everything we don’t like, typical unreasonable and unsustainable logic.

        • Anonymous says:

          Exactly. So tired to hear iguana lovers in the Brac justifying drowning cats because they are “invasive.” So are people — we gonna drown all dem? Too much cats? Yep. Ag will kill them – yes humanely – with an injection, not causing the fear and curelty of drowning. Shame on you.

        • BeaumontZodecloun says:

          Thank you for yours — it helps, I think if people with different ideologies discuss important issues.

          Myself, I would never try to use a long stick to beat an iguana down from a tree. I would use a noose, which slips over their head and holds them tight until they can be brought down and quickly killed.

          I agree with you that a careless kill is not humane.

          It’s not that we don’t like green iguanas; they are beautiful in their own way. It is that they are seriously detrimental to the native ecology and its creatures.

          Also agree with you that — in general — much of humanity everywhere is destructive. Please understand that these green iguanas aren’t being killed to benefit people (although that is a factor) as much as to benefit the native iguanas, birds, and other … critters.

          The DOE is involved in conservation and preservation of indigenous species, such as Blue Iguanas, Sister Islands Rock Iguanas (SIRIs), parrots, turtle, and even several rare plant species. They (DOE) didn’t enter into this process lightly, but with much study and measurement.

          The current process may not be perfect, but to allow the destruction of our local ecology and indigenous species would be horrible.

    • Anonymous says:

      You’re acting like that $4,276,915 got pissed down the drain..

      If you’re willing to go in the bush in boiling heat to kill iguanas all week, you probably need the money. It goes into the hands of Caymanians who could instead be getting conchs out of season for supplemental income.

      The money is then spent locally, benefitting the local economy. Unlike permit holders who send majority of it outside our borders.

      • Anonymous says:

        Until there is a thorough audit of the count I am highly suspicious of the accuracy of the count and even worse, the actual payments made. Has anyone see an expat get busted for taking Conch? Nope, crickets.

        • Anonymous says:

          the counting area and skiffs that hold the carcasses are visible to the public at the entrance gate to the landfill. Literally anyone can go and observe who’s culling and counting if you doubt it. There’s also multiple CCTVs watching.

          Stop conspiring in a comment box and go look for yourself.

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