Cayman Islands residents could be asked to kill green iguanas in return for raffle tickets in a new initiative to deal with the invasive pests.
The Department of Environment had outlined plans for a $425,000 four-month culling program targeting the exploding population of green iguanas.
The plan involves hiring contracted hunters to cull iguanas. This will be supplemented by a “green iguana raffle” in which any Cayman Islands resident can register as a community culler and compete for cash prizes.
Participants will be required to submit valid photographic evidence of their kills and will be given a raffle ticket for every 10 iguanas culled.
The outline concept proposal for the Green Iguana Control Plan 2017 will be considered by the National Conservation Council at its meeting on Wednesday.
It includes a $320,000 budget for payments to contracted hunters and a $50,000 allocation for the community raffle plan.
According to the document, “It is unlikely that the culling business community is anywhere near the scale that would be needed to make a significant impact on the green iguana population growth trajectory.
“Extensive community involvement could, if successful, reach the necessary scale.”
The more iguanas people cull, the more tickets they will receive to compete for the raffle prize money. Cullers must photograph the iguanas and use a Sharpie pen to mark the animals with a unique personal identity number to register the kill, according to the proposal. Batches of 10 iguanas with consecutive numbers must be lined up side by side and photographed with some evidence of the date, before payment or raffle tickets are issued.
Participants will be responsible for proper disposal of the marked iguanas.
The concept also includes a proposal for contractors to be hired full time for the four-month period to cull iguanas at a rate of $2 per head.
It suggests the rate – decreased from the $5 per head offered in a two-week trial cull last year – is justifiable given the longer duration of the project.
Any firm contracted as part of the project must have a relevant trade and business license and will be issued special licenses to allow them to operate air rifles close to public roads.
The proposal also includes plans for a “short sharp hit” on the emerging green iguana population on Cayman Brac.
“We propose a short intensive operation in late March 2017 using night searches with spotlights to locate iguanas and to capture them if accessible, backed by licensed gun operators to shoot iguanas in locations that cannot be reached by the searchers.”
The document warns of a rapid growth in the Spot Bay area of Cayman Brac and recommends swift action before the problem escalates.
“Work to establish a sustainable control operation in both of the sister isles will be essential to preventing the rapid population growth we have seen in Grand Cayman. For these efforts to be effective, measures are also needed to reduce the frequency of accidental imports of green iguanas from Grand Cayman to the sister isles, and between the sister isles.”