The Department of Environment has begun registering contract hunters for a four-month islandwide cull of green iguanas.
Officials are signing up Caymanians and businesses to be involved in the intensive cull – the latest effort to reduce the population of the invasive species.
Registration was taking place for contract hunters at the DoE headquarters on North Sound Road between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday. Further registration days will be scheduled as necessary, according to officials. The department is recruiting contract hunters, who commit to culling more than 100 iguanas a month at a price of $2 per animal. The project begins in May and runs through the end of August.
Contracts are open to adults who are Caymanian, permanent residents with the right to work, or anyone with a relevant Trade and Business License, according to the DoE’s guidelines.
The DoE is also running a green iguana raffle for casual hunters, who compete for raffle tickets to win prizes in a cash draw. The registration process for that part of the cull begins on April 26 via email.
“Anyone interested in culling green iguanas on a smaller scale will be able to participate in the Green Iguana Raffle, where raffle tickets for a twice-monthly cash prize will be issued for every ten iguanas culled,” according to the guidelines.
The cull, which includes a $320,000 budget for payments to contracted hunters and a $50,000 allocation for the community raffle plan, is the largest attempt yet to tackle the exponentially increasing population of green iguanas in Grand Cayman.
At the latest population survey in August 2016, 404,000 adult green iguanas were counted. When hatchlings are included in the count, the number increases to more than 800,000. The figures also show a year-on-year increase in the rate of population growth.
If the population growth continues unchecked, the DoE predicts “a catastrophic impact on the natural environment and socially unacceptable problems for agriculture, infrastructure and residential areas.”
Participants in the four-month cull will be responsible for safely disposing of the dead iguanas.
A Department of Environment report on two test culls held last year suggested a sustained culling project would likely generate around 200 tons of iguana carcasses annually – equivalent in weight to about 80 adult elephants.
The DoE guidelines for the forthcoming cull indicate: “Contracts and raffle terms will place strict obligations on participants to respect property rights, cull the iguanas humanely, and dispose of carcasses properly. Reporting of culled iguanas for payment purposes must be done by marking the carcasses, photographing them and sending the photos to the cull manager.”