The Cayman Islands Department of Environment is hoping to head off a green iguana population explosion in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman like the one seen on Grand Cayman, where it is estimated there are more than 1 million of the invasive reptiles.
Green iguanas have been found on both of the Sister Islands, but not in numbers large enough to warrant the kind of culling efforts recently initiated on Grand Cayman. Still, officials say they want to act quickly to head off the growth of the populations.
Teams of trained volunteers, such as Team Go Green in Cayman Brac and Green Iguana B’Gonna on Little Cayman, have been at work reporting on the green iguanas. In some cases, they have been culling the lizards in an effort to prevent them from competing for resources with local rock iguanas.
The DoE has periodically dispatched its own iguana cull teams to the Sister Islands over the past two years, but Terrestrial Resources Unit research officer Sophie O’Hehir said community help is essential in addressing the problem.
“It is not necessary for all Sister Islands residents to catch and cull a green iguana when they see one, but everyone can learn the differences between rock iguanas and green iguanas and pick up a phone to report a sighting,” Ms. O’Hehir said in a news release. “It is important to report sightings quickly. Reports more than 30 minutes after a sighting are usually too late to enable volunteers to catch the green iguana.”
The Sister Islands rock iguana is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The DoE has set up two phone lines to report sightings. The Cayman Brac wildlife hotline is 917-7744, and the hotline for Little Cayman is 925-7625.
Callers are asked to provide as much detail on the iguana location as possible so that cullers can be dispatched swiftly and efficiently.
For more information on the Sister Islands green iguana cull effort, including details of how to volunteer for the cull response teams, contact DoE public education and outreach officer Brent Fuller at 244-5984 or 922-5514, or by email at [email protected] or [email protected]
Additional information about differences between rock iguanas and green iguanas can be found at the DoE website: www.doe.ky.