Some 115 new iguana cullers signed up to take part in the islandwide eradication effort after an appeal for new hunters to come forward.
With the invasive lizards becoming harder to find as numbers dwindle, the Department of Environment put out an appeal to recruit new cullers, resulting in 115 additional people becoming licensed.
Fred Burton, head of the DoE’s terrestrial resources unit, said the weekly cull totals had dropped from around 30,000 a week in the early months of the cull to around 15,000 a week. He said this was an inevitable consequence of the early success.
He hopes the influx of new cullers will help maintain or even improve the weekly cull totals. Ultimately, the DoE hopes to cull as many as 1.3 million iguanas over the course of the cull. As of Tuesday, a total of 383,809 green iguana carcasses had been dropped off at the cull headquarters at George Town landfill.
Cullers are paid $4.50 per iguana, rising to $5 if they meet monthly and annual cull targets.
Mr. Burton acknowledged that a new influx of cullers would not necessarily result in a large rise in the number of iguanas culled. He said the prey had been largely cleared from the easy-to-reach areas, and more skill and effort was required to find them now than in the early days.
“The people that are having the most success are the people that are going into the bush and hunting, not just gathering,” he said. “It is beginning to become a job that requires more skill, determination and a willingness to go off the road.
“Quite clearly, there are diminishing returns and it is going to take a lot of work to keep up the pressure.”
He said some of the new licensed cullers were people who had already been culling for other license holders, who were now stepping up their operations and going into business for themselves.
For now, he believes, the cull totals are still relatively encouraging, but he believes the DoE may have to adapt its strategy as iguanas become even more scarce.
“I think we need to work on skills rather than just number of cullers,” he said. “The best way to do that is something that we will have to consider with the steering committee.”