With the law of diminishing returns beginning to impact Grand Cayman’s great green iguana cull, officials are making a new plea for people to get involved.
So far cullers have removed more than 340,000 of the invasive lizards from the ecosystem.
But if population estimates are correct, there is still around another one million to go.
The initial success of the cull means the prey is becoming increasingly difficult to find, according to Fred Burton, head of the Department of Environment’s terrestrial resources unit.
In the early months of the cull, hunters were off-loading around 5,000 iguanas a day at the landfill site. Now that number is down to 2,000 a day.
Of the 348 cullers that signed up at the start of the program in November, around 100 either did not take part or are no longer active.
According to Tim Austin, deputy director of the DoE, a core group of around 150 cull teams are active every day.
“They are really making a big impact,” he said.
In an effort to keep the pressure on and increase the number of hunters in the field, the DoE is holding a second registration drive. Any Caymanian status holder over the age of 18 can register through cull manager Cornwall Consulting at the landfill site from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. this Thursday, Jan. 24 through Jan. 31. The site is closed on Sunday and during Monday’s public holiday.
Cullers are paid an initial $4.50 per iguana rising to $5 a head if they meet monthly and annual quotas. The DoE has lowered the minimum allowable quota to 200 per month in an effort to encourage wider participation.
At this stage, Mr. Burton says there is no consideration being given to raising the bounty on iguanas. He said the cull was only a quarter of the way through and officials would continue to monitor and adapt as necessary.
A new population survey is planned in the coming weeks to check the impact of the cull on population numbers.
Environment Minister Dwayne Seymour will also have to go back to the Legislative Assembly in the next few months to ask for new funding for the project.
An annual budget allocation of $1.1 million and an additional injection of $1.9 million from the Environmental Protection Fund was used to get the cull started. But, as anticipated at the outset, an additional allocation of at least $5 million from the EPF will be needed to fund the continuation of the cull through to the end of the year.
For more information, visit www.doe.ky.