1 million green iguanas culled

Members of the Wildlife Research cull team deliver the one-millionth green iguana to the George Town landfill. - Photo: DoE

The green iguana culling mission hit a landmark on Thursday when the one millionth of the invasive species was deposited at the George Town landfill.

The culling programme was launched almost a year ago.

The Department of Environment’s Fred Burton, who is overseeing the programme, told the Cayman Compass on Thursday, “It is a credit to the cullers who have been going at this with gusto and I am glad to see we have passed that 1 million mark before we hit the anniversary of the start of the cull, which is next week.”

He said that, going at the current pace, he expects the cullers to have removed around 1.1 million of the animals from the wild by the end of this year. That figure is not quite the 1.3 million that the DoE had “optimistically” aimed for, he said, adding, “We had no idea really at that time [when the cull launched] how it was going to go. We had to come up with an aspirational number to determine the budget. Getting to 1 million is very good news.”

While the DoE is awaiting confirmation of the budget to finance the continuation of the culling programme, Burton said, “If it’s approved, we’ll continue through next year and the year after. I think it is quite important to do that even though the culling numbers are going to be much, much lower.”

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He added, “If we slap ourselves on the back and say ‘Job well done’, it is only going to be a few years before we are back where we started. It is very important that we keep going.”

The DoE also plans to hold discussions to determine if the “bounty approach” to culling iguanas is the best way forward, Burton said.

Currently, cullers are paid $4.50 a head, rising to $5 if they meet monthly and annual targets. The problem with this approach is, as the population of iguanas decreases, the amount of money that can be earned will also decrease, thus impacting the motivation of the cullers.

Because of that, officials will be looking at different payment models, details of which will be revealed once one has been confirmed, Burton said.

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