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.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Here we go again, wanting to protect iguanas now . Humane treatment of animals?. Has anyone considered those poor little lobsters having their tails wrung off and broiled and laid out across someone plate or the little shrimps who would like to swim another day. Oh but the iguanas must continue eating blossoms from the fruit trees of Cayman kind.

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  2. Twyla Vargas. You manage, as usual, to completely miss the point of this article. I am sure the big words confused you. The editors do not care if you kill an iguana. They would recommend killing all of the green iguanas as rapidly as possible, They don’t find a raffle for dead iguanas to be a wise idea. For some unknown reason they reference Carl Jung’s theories which are probably also outside of your realm of understanding, Now stop hurting lobsters before we have to report you to PETA and have you publically prosecuted for the mistreatment of wildlife. You better not have caught them out of season either!

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  3. Herb, no need to be insulting to Twyla. So, the dead lizards are left to rot and stink. Now that’s brilliant. Amateur cullers could very well kill anything moving. Yes??????

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  4. Alright Compass, I am happy you recall the severity of the problem at hand and how expensive it would be. The massive cull that happened previously hardly put a dent in the iguana population. The Island needs to be creative to find a solution to this problem. Criticisms to any given approach are to be expected, but given the breadth of the Editorial, I am sure any alternative approaches to this issue, by the Compass, would be welcomed and considered.

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  5. Herb ,
    I agree with Lukishi , and you don’t understand Twyla’s thoughts of reference in her comment .
    But to belittle her , who are you ?

    I agree that leaving the iguana in the dump to stink and rot is stupid and better use can be made of them knowing that they are destructive vegetarians we could find better use putting them on our plates .

    But the iguana and lionfish problem needs to be aggressively addressed .

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    • I am not trying to belittle her, Mr. Ebanks. I am just tired of reading her comments on almost every article that are very often off the mark. My hope is that she will read the articles before commenting, Who am I? I am an American who learned to have a quick wit while studying for my O’levels in the Cayman Islands, I love that little rock, and hate to see some of the changes that have taken place there. I cannot do much to help, but I almost never drink from styrofoam cups anymore! Warmest regards from a Cayman raised and island loving expat.

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  6. I have never liked to kill animals, ever. Yet I’m a lionfish culler, and I’ve taken many out of the ocean, every week usually, because is a necessity. I always try my best for the lionfish to die quickly or at least to suffer as few as possible. Because, again, I don’t like to kill animals.

    When the iguana control program was still made of whispers in the clouds, I offered my help. I have had excellent marksmanship with BB guns and slingshots since I was a young boy, and I even got the corresponding badge in Cub Scouts, something that was not easy at all in my times and in my country. So, despite I wouldn’t like to kill the iguanas, I’d do it because it is necessary and, more important, because I am sure I’d do it as quickly as possible, to avoid any unnecessary pain and suffering to those iguanas.

    I was told that many requisites were necessary to be covered, and didn’t mind. I even offered to buy and import my own BB/pellet rifle.

    And then I came across this lottery thing.

    I have never been contacted, so I’d imagine nobody is interested in my help. But I would never help in these conditions. This lottery approach has the whole potential to generate a bloodbath. Such scenario always yields extreme unethical practices, to say the least. Something that green iguanas, as lionfish, don’t deserve. They are guilty of nothing.

    So for now I will just stand aside. I don’t even dare (and will never do) to run on them with the car, as many intentionally do. Hell, I have even rescued two injured ones that were hit by the roads and just injured by the cars.

    Things that are necessary, if appropriately done, result in better outcomes.

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