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.”

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3 COMMENTS

  1. If they want to get rid of the green iguanas, as we certainly do, make it EASY for members of the public to get air gun licenses provided they have a clean criminal record.

    Also reduce the duty on air rifles.

    We pay the guy who comes to our house $10 per dead iguana and that seems to be the going rate. I can’t imagine people doing this for $2 per head. Especially with all the hassle of getting registered and an air gun license. But who knows.

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  2. I am sorry, but I have never heard anything more ridiculous in my whole life; and to you members of the public who are asking for people to be issued air rifles and wander around neighbourhoods armed with weapons that can kill other animals and children, I despair! Has everyone gone completely insane? These are iguanas we are talking about, not wild boars. By agreeing to people being able to kill, it will result in more cruelty to these already persecuted animals; and you really believe we won’t have piles of rotting iguana corpses (the carcas of which, by the way, carries salmonella), rotting by road sides – as what will be the method of disposal (apparently left to the member of the public responsible for culling). My husband farms and we provide our trees and plants with netting and other features which exclude most of the iguanas from being able to eat our crops – not all I grant you – but I am not denying these passive, vegan-eaters a dinner. We catch and handle some of the friendlier, younger iguanas – which incidentally if anyone has ever owned one, as I did in the UK for 12 years, they will know they make excellent first pets for children – they are easy to paper-train, and fascinating to study. I love all animals, and understand this species is not native to Cayman, and I have seen their increase over the last 15 years, but as with the proposed hedgehog cull some years back in the UK, the best idea? Round ’em up and ship ’em off. Alternatively if I open up a ‘green iguana sanctuary for persecuted animals’ maybe I will offer $2 a head for you to bring them to me.

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