The Caribbean Utilities Company has been forced to iguana-proof electricity poles across the island after multiple power outages.
The utility company has completed an islandwide project to wrap metal sheeting around nearly half of the telegraph poles in Grand Cayman.
David Watler, vice president of transmission and distribution at the power company, said iguanas frequently clamber up the poles and create a short in the system, causing power loss.
The exploding population of green iguanas has long been considered a menace to plants, farmers and backyard growers, but CUC’s project suggests the invasive lizards are also causing issues in urban areas.
“We had an influx of iguanas that was, at one point, causing multiple outages per month over a period of several months,” Mr. Watler said.
“We had to rapidly identify problem areas and a system to prevent iguanas from causing outages. You will see a number of the poles now have bands around them to prevent them from climbing the poles and contacting the power lines.”
He said areas where land had previously provided habitat for iguanas were particularly affected as the displaced lizards sought new perches in urban areas.
Since the metal bands were added to the electricity poles, he said, iguana-related power outages have been reduced to almost zero.
“It was a considerable amount of money, but in terms of the reliability it was something we had to do,” he said of the project.
He said there have been similar problems with snakes and frogs in the past, and special equipment had to be installed to prevent those outages.
Dealing with the outages caused by “animal contact” is a lengthy process that involves sending a crew to the location, leaving customers in the area without power for more than an hour in many cases. It’s not particularly healthy for the iguana either.
“Most of them resulted in casualties,” said Mr. Watler. Government is seeking a solution to the multiple issues caused by the increasing population of green iguanas.
In a pilot cull in June, 14,000 green iguanas were killed in a week. Since then, there has been no update on whether or how population control efforts will be expanded.
Frederic Burton, head of the National Conservation Council’s invasive species committee, was not available for comment Tuesday.