Iguana cull marks first year

Cullers are continuing to target invasive green iguanas. - Photo: Norma Connolly

Just over a year ago, the Department of Environment launched its island-wide cull of invasive green iguanas.

As of 2 Nov., the cullers had removed 1,028,305 of the animals from the population.

The cull began on Monday, 29 Oct., and in its first week, cullers delivered 53,953 of the animals to the George Town landfill – the largest number recorded in a single week, though it is likely that many had been culled beforehand and delivered to the landfill once the exercise officially began.

Over the past year, the weekly numbers have fluctuated from its high in the first week to a low of 4,925 in its 40th week, 29 July to 3 Aug. In fact, the cull numbers slowed throughout the summer months, as hunting efforts were impacted by heavy rainfall during the wet season.

The iguana cull topped the one-million mark last week.

The Department of Environment had set a target of 1.3 million iguanas by the end of this year, but at the current rate, Fred Burton of the DoE, who is spearheading the culling initiative, said it seemed likely that 1.1 million would be culled by the end of 2019.

Cayman’s green iguana cullers are being paid $4.50 per iguana, with that sum rising to $5 if they meet monthly and annual targets.

The latest green iguana survey, carried out by the DoE in August, indicated that the cull appears to be working, with population numbers dropping more than 90% since last year’s count.

Earlier surveys, done over the previous five years, had shown that the green iguana population had increased fivefold from 2014 to 2018, from about 254,000 to about 1.3 million.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now