Step One: Find iguanas.
Step Two: Kill iguanas.
Step Three: Inscribe ID number on iguana corpses using permanent marker.\
Step Four: Take photo of iguana corpses and send to the Cayman Islands Department of Environment.
Step Five: WIN CASH PRIZES!
The Department of Environment’s “dead iguana raffle” has to be one of the most bizarre, and ill-advised, schemes ever to emanate from the minds of civil servants – anywhere.
It would be bad if it fails to draw much interest from the community. It would be far, far worse, however, if it succeeds.
Yes, we might have fewer green iguanas munching on the island’s foliage, but that would be accompanied by an exponential increase in amateur cullers (i.e. amateur killers) intent on scoring a big cash payday from the government.
It is remarkable the department, which typically insists on the humane treatment of animals, would make a proposal that would almost certainly result in thousands of animals being killed in decidedly inhumane, brutal, unthinking or clumsy ways.
The stipulation that amateur cullers would be responsible for the proper disposal of marked iguanas is risible. Are we hoping (more likely dreaming) that the cullers would responsibly cart them off to the George Town Landfill for a decent burial?
There’s also the highly important issue of Cayman’s image. Did anyone in the Department of Environment ask anyone in the Department of Tourism their thoughts on how this dead iguana raffle will harmonize with their multimillion-dollar “Caymankind” campaign?
If we’re not being clear, let’s try this: Our government should never enact measures that would foster an image of Cayman as a country that has anything to do with slaughtering large lizards for cash prizes.
There are some things that almost always make people feel uncomfortable, even queasy. One of those is dead beings held up by their tails. (For the intellectually curious, look up the phrase “Jungian archetypes.” It will help explain such universal repulsions.)
Perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on the Department of Environment. Any idea may seem like a good idea if you’re out of all others. We think the department’s Jane Haakonsson spoke the truth last December when she said at least 350,000 green iguanas would need to be culled each year just to keep the population stable. (The department had estimated earlier that culling 200,000 green iguanas would cost about $1 million and would be fraught with unresolved issues around licensing, billing, oversight and disposal of carcasses.)
We’ve always been skeptical that Cayman’s government has the political will, funding and ability to orchestrate such a complex, large-scale and sustained operation. The new proposal does little to alleviate those doubts.
The idea was scheduled to be considered by the National Conservation Council on Wednesday afternoon, after our newspaper deadline. Hopefully, the Council will take the appropriate action and cull the proposal.
As of last August, Grand Cayman was home to more than 800,000 green iguanas, half of them adults. The population is doubling every year, meaning that now there may be 1.2 million green iguanas on this island.
Columnist George F. Will is fond of quoting American Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who said all military disasters could be explained by two words: “Too late.” Mr. Will elaborates, “Too late to discern a danger, too late to prepare for it.”
That, we fear, is the situation that Cayman’s extremely fecund green iguanas have foisted upon our lethargic government.
While Cayman’s officials have been procrastinating, Cayman’s green iguanas have been procreating.