DoE opens bid on new approach to invasive iguana

| 04/03/2022 | 57 Comments
Cayman News Service
Juvenile green iguana (Photo by Mark Orr)

(CNS) The Department of Environment (DoE) is hoping to find a new way to manage the invasive green iguanas and move away from the current bounty system, transitioning the current cull to a lower cost operation, given the reduced population. According to a bid recently opened on the government’s procurement website, this is envisioned as a gradual change to hunting teams paid by the hour, rather than for each iguana killed.

Over the last few years, more than 300 cullers killed about 1.32 million green iguanas under the bounty scheme, but the DoE has said that the time would come when this approach would no longer work effectively. They are now proposing to deploy hunting teams of licensed air rifle operators with existing track records of safety and effectiveness primarily on Grand Cayman but also on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

These hunters will work with spotters, noose operators and iguana retrievers. However, prospective bidders on the next phase of managing the invasive species can propose other strategies that they think would be effective for the longer-term cull. Such proposals will be vetted for efficiency, effectiveness and costs, among other criteria.

“It is anticipated that existing bounty hunters on Grand Cayman will continue under present arrangements until they no longer find this financially worthwhile, with many of them expected to transition to the new hunting team operations as the green iguana population falls,” the DoE said in the tender documents.

“There will be no predefined pivot point, with each culler free to make their own decision whether to continue under existing bounty arrangements, to join a contracted team, or to move to alternative employment. As the bounty hunting activity falls, the opening hours for the green iguana carcass reception facility at the GT Landfill can be reduced proportionately,” the officials explained.

Unless the activity level becomes so low that the Project Steering Committee decides that the operating expense is no longer justified, the DoE said the bounty hunting will not be closed.

The aim for the new phase in the cull is to reduce the green iguana population on Grand Cayman to 10,000 individuals or less, as estimated by the DoE’s annual population surveys, and to eradicate them from Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

Bounty cullers and expert hunting teams will be accountable to the project manager, who will be accountable to DoE and to the steering committee.

The documents for the tender note that project management skills required include logistics, payroll, team and staff management, data collection and management, technological skills for location monitoring of teams, and human resource skills capable of coordinating and managing a large and diverse team of variably independent workers and their interactions with the public.

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (57)

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  1. watcher says:

    I think I understand their point of view. I love dogs. I’m good with cats also. In several neighbourhoods there are small packs of dogs that roam, mostly dumping refuse cans and chasing chickens and/or cats. It seems sometimes just a matter of time before some of these packs take down a child. Calls to DOA don’t always result in action. In all fairness, they can only put out dog traps and then negotiate with the owner (if identified) or euthanise the dogs.

    I don’t blame the dogs. I blame the supposed owners. I admit to having fantasised about staking these people out in the bush with only table scraps and muddy water to live on. Many of our dogs are treated terribly, and it breaks my heart. Still, some of the packs are bloody dangerous.

    • Anonymous says:

      Is an iguana nest hunt a part of the proposal? Crushing the nests would be a humane and efficient solution. The pay by hour suits me fine, I hope this means pension and health insurance for me and my family.

  2. GoingChicken says:

    For those worried about the chickens, given the price of chicken is about to get way more expensive I don’t think we have to worry about starting to see a decline in the chicken population…

    • Mumbichi says:

      My family has been eating them for years. Of course, we live in an area where we can see what the chickens eat. It’s a simple matter to build a chicken trap and catch them and humanely kill them. Ask an elder if you don’t know how to clean them.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Get rid of the CHICKENS!

  4. Anonymous says:

    At last someone telling the truth. I know some ex-employees who have been treated badly by doe.
    Bad things happening including cover ups and no one taking notice and all at public expense.
    Wake up Franz.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The concept of the culling program was sound. But of course, the brains at CIG made started the program on the wrong foot! Starting at $5 per carcass then raising to $10 had to break their bank! Perhaps if they’d started at $2 per carcass and raised to $5 there may be some left in the kitty?

    Typical CIG mentality – “oh we convinced them to make fund$ available? Let’s waste it all from the get go!”

    And yes 04 @ 11:30 am – Animal Control Unit needs to do something about feral cats – my neighbourhood is over-run!

  6. Anonymous says:

    The DOE again? This failure of a department never seems to be out of the news, and for all the wrong reasons. It’s just a shame that there’s no one with the courage to investigate the continuous allegations of incompetence and faulty decision making. As an example, there are at least 3 senior members of staff from one section of the department who have passed their retirement date at 65, yet maintain annual contracts, and surprise, they are all expat ‘status’ holders. So instead of training or recruiting competent replacements, the gravy train keeps running. Incredibly, of these people recently lost his driving licence in court, yet is meant to supervise mobile patrol officers. He is now chauffeured around by patrol staff so that he can actually do his job. And surprise surprise, his boss is another one of those on an annual freebie at public expense.
    Too many allegations have been made about staff discipline, working practices and competence for this to be coincidence, or sour grapes. There is real news here, when will government dig deeper?

    • Anonymous says:

      Just the usual badmouthing.

      • Anonymous says:

        I doubt it, take a long look at this department and you’ll be shocked. If the photographer did his job instead of spending hours spinning yarns and taking personal photos, or if staff private businesses were properly authorised, govt vehicles used only for govt business, and staff were held accountable for serious disciplinary issues, a lot more would get done.
        That would include effective enforcement of the law and the prosecution of those hell bent on damaging our environment.
        Nothing said in these posts by others is untrue, just inconvenient to some.

  7. Anonymous says:

    DOE should sponsor prizes for the best green iguana recipes and come up with other out of the box ideas to encourage and facilitate the public’s participation in managing green iguanas.

  8. Fan of Fantasy Islands says:

    So they spend half an hour in the bush, catch a few chickens for dinner and report 9 hours worked at $20 an hour to the Project Manager who presumably worked for OfReg before dreaming up this arrangement.Only Ofreg has the personnel who can fill all the requirements set out in the tender note, their track record speaks for itself

    • Anonymous says:

      @7:18 exactly. Let’s pay full time for doing nothing. “Sir we didn’t find any this month” lol.

  9. Anonymous says:

    CIG has to be commended for leading the developed world in creative ways to waste money. This looks like another way to fatten the pockets of a few Caymanians who will hire foreign workers willing to take a job that pays less than a living wage. Only CIG could take a program that 100% aligns spending with performance and turn it into another guaranteed expense in the budget. A great day for green iguanas and a bad day for Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      If the culling payments are paid per iguana, at least minimally, the money is going towards what it’s intended to do.

      This newly proposed culling modus operandi is screaming WASTE OF MONEY!

      At a time like this, where finances need to be conserved, this new proposal has too much likelihood of not achieving the intended results.

      However, who knows, this might be what the intention is: to support nepotism and unfair favoritism.

    • Anonymous says:

      Pure foolishness, pure crack addicts here in West Bay are hunting them especially at nites and they are taking them supposedly to licensed cullers who don’t cull at all and crack addicts hunt only at nite and they fetch about $3.50 per iguana. And they refuse to get them in the day as they too blasted lazy to go find a real jib and lots of them are jack of all trades including plumbing and construction

  10. Anonymous says:

    Let every person who applied for a Air Rifle Firearms Licence get one, and in no time there would be no more greens. It’s criminal that they will only issue licences to friends and family.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Feral pest Chickens FAR worse of a problem than iguanas!

    • Anonymous says:

      For real. They dig holes in my yard like a dog would. They are a real nuisance.

      And, although they are chickens — I can’t hold them accountable (like a human) — they eat other dead chickens.

      These cannibal chickens. What are we going to do with them?

  12. Anonymous says:

    What can go wrong when we start to pay people to walk through the bushes by the hour…

    • Anonymous says:

      So true. If they are plaid for what is, at least, actually culled, it’s result-based value for money.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Bonkers beyond belief.. and somehow cig has come up with a scheme which is way more open to abuse than the previous nonsense plan.
    Auditor should stop it right now.
    As for the unaudited previous nonsense scheme I will ask the following questions and will wait for answers:
    How were the 1.3m iguana killed?
    Who counted 1.3m dead iguanas?
    How were the1.3m counted?
    Where are the 1.3m dead iguana now?

    • Anonymous says:

      Fair questions. Nothing wrong with asking questions.

      The real problem is when, without good reason, such questions can’t be answered transparently.

      Wonder if, just for the heck of it, someone should not submit a Freedom of Information request.

    • Anonymous says:

      Come on – you can’t be so stupid to have not noticed that there are so many fewer iguanas than before?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Surely being paid by the hour has to be more expensive than by the head. Plus open to abuse.

  15. Robert Mugabe IV says:

    What a terrible idea. Former Bounty Hunters to be paid by the hour ??
    The DOE has it thought this out very well.
    You couldn’t make it up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sister Islands been doing it gratis. DOE should contact people with air rifle licences and provide them with appropriate pellets. That is the great hold-up, getting ammo, even after you’ve been approved. Hint: When you’re hunting greens — especially at night — 1000 pellets isn’t a lifetime supply.

      The folks noosing on Little are really skilled. I think we should do it on a consultant/contract basis, and focus on community notification and saturation of areas with approved shooters and noosers. Use sentient folk who can tell the difference between Blues, Greens and SARIs. DOE folk have been excellent with community education and organising culling teams. Lot of rock climbing and wrangling of difficult terrain as the low-hanging fruit get removed, but I really think area saturation is the key.

      Two other difficult areas that aren’t talked about. The airport. Green iguanas all over it. Somebody has to be approved to deal with it. Also, some of the hotels have quite a green population. Yes, some tourists like them. They are beautiful creatures. It’s not their fault, but they have to go (the greens, not the tourists) 😀

    • Anonymous says:

      So true. Why would they want to work as hard, when their getting paid by the hours, instead of when they were getting paid per iguana.

      What a ridiculous policy. And, if it backfires, these green iguanas are going to be flourishing again. Just can’t make this stuff up.

  16. Anonymous says:

    DoE should keep seek to retain the per head pest management budget and just integrate target list for another season into other persistent problem areas like feral chickens and (appreciate some don’t want to hear this) cats – esp those that pose immediate threat to Little Cayman’s critically sensitive and valuable bird sanctuaries. There are also invasive termite and mealy bug threats where comprehensive territorial pest management strategies would be appropriate.

    • Anonymous says:

      You can’t be serious that you would suggest we have people walking the streets shooting cats. However I would be OK with people killing any dog that is found in the streets without being on a leash – those are the real menace and need to be dealt with. Then any owner found to be responsible can be fined too.

      • Anonymous says:

        So, you’re not okay with killing cats, but dogs are fair game. Come on. That’s a sin.

        Now, if a dangerous dog is threatening to kill or hurt a human, there might be a margin of appreciation to kill it to stop a human getting hurt.

        But, killing a dog, that’s just plain wrong. There is a disconnect between your views on not killing cats, but it being okay to kill (at learst) a non-threatening dog.

    • Anonymous says:

      They farming them up north side and in bt area so per hour is one extreme to manage the per head under the table farming

    • Anonymous says:

      Killing cats is inhumane. That is a crime of cruelty to animals.

      • Anonymous says:

        Feral cats are a nuisance, perpetrated by irresponsible human owners, that have chosen to disregard their responsibility to spay/neuter, or keep under control and shelter indoors in the Cayman Islands. Cruelty is letting house cats multiply and stray in an equatorial outdoor furnace where temperatures routinely exceed 110’F and where there are no natural fresh water sources, shelter, love, or appropriate foods. Reducing those numbers of abandoned cats either by trap or lead would be a welcome public service, and ease pressure on sensitive ecology under this invasive reality. Our Humane Society does not have the capacity for the thousands of cats at issue. They would need to euthanize them in big batches, since there aren’t enough foster homes for all of them. It’s not the cats’ fault, it’s the lousy humans that cast them out.

        • C'Mon Now! says:

          The record high for the Cayman Islands is 94.5F, shortly after Ivan when we had no leaves left on the trees.

          While we are certainly tropical Cayman is 19.3 degrees north of the equator. So we are not equatorial.

          If you are going to make an argument maybe try limit the false/ridiculous parts and not insult people while you are doing it.

        • Anonymous says:

          Many of the feral cats have been trapped and neutered by various humane groups. The work is ongoing.

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