Reports of green iguanas with their limbs tied up with electrical tape and left to die are raising concerns in Grand Cayman. One iguana was found with its limbs tied and its mouth taped. Another was left with its arms fastened behind its back by the road side in West Bay.
The Department of Environment has also received reports of iguanas found taped up. The handful of incidents do not appear to be connected to any legitimate culling efforts to control the invasive species.
Louise Spencer, who discovered two of the taped iguanas, said she was able to free one of them with scissors.
“The iguana was in real distress. Its mouth was taped and it couldn’t drink or eat and was struggling to breathe. “I know some people view them as vermin, but no animal deserves to be treated like that.”
She said any population control efforts should be done in a humane and regulated fashion.
Jane Haakonsson of the DoE’s terrestrial resources unit said the fact that green iguanas are an invasive species does not mean that such inhumane treatment could be condoned.
Cayman Islands business Spinion Ltd., which recently began processing iguanas to be sold to local restaurants, said the images were not connected to its business.
Maria Yapelli, liaison officer for Spinion, said its contracted hunters had not been in the West Bay area. She said health and safety guidelines meant that the animals had to be captured live and slaughtered at the processing plant.
“We do have to tie them to prevent from being scratched, but we cover them, which calms then down and we definitely don’t leave them lying about. We make sure they are brought back to the plant within an hour.
“Processing meat is an ugly business, there is no way around it. A lot of people would be vegetarian if they knew how it was done. There is no nice way to do it, but you can definitely be discreet and make sure it as humane as possible,” she said.