Truth Behind Florida’s Green Iguana “Crisis”

by Rae Hartwell
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Green Iguana, Gordon River Greenway, Naples, FL. Photo by Rae Hartwell

This week the FWC disappointed by dishing out population control responsibility on everyday citizens.

The media sensationalized the situation with insolent headlines like:

“Florida’s solution to its invasive Iguana problem: Smash their skulls in.”

“Nightmare of the Iguana.”

“Iguanas are worse than ever and we’re spending big bucks to get rid of them.”

For an estimated 59 years the Green Iguana has been an “invasive species” to the state of the Florida. This week the FWC encouraged Florida residents to kill Green Iguanas “whenever possible”. Read that again. Citizens have permission to attempt decapitation and shoot iguanas whenever possible, since freezing and poisoning them isn’t okay. 

“Encouraging the killing of animals by people without the proper background, training, or equipment for euthanasia only results in unnecessary suffering. Some of the most vile animal cruelty injuries I’ve seen were inflicted on iguanas by humans. Population control should only be carried out by professionals in a way that is most humane and compassionate towards the animals. Just because something is labeled as ‘invasive’ does not mean it doesn’t physically feel and suffer.”

Samantha Plencner -Conservation Scientist and Wildlife Rehabilitator

If you are flustered by a Green Iguana issue but have a conflicted heart, Wildlogica urges Florida residents to follow these easy and available steps:

  • Trap the iguana.
  • Call the SPCA or a local vet who will perform humane euthanasia on the iguana.

Now let’s take a peek at some of the complaints against Green Iguanas.

“Some Green Iguanas cause damage to infrastructure by digging burrows that erode and collapse sidewalks, foundations, seawalls, berms and canal banks. Green iguanas may also leave droppings on docks, moored boats, seawalls, porches, decks, pool platforms and inside swimming pools,” the Florida Wildlife Commission says. “They also carry Salmonella bacteria.”
Florida Wildlife Commission

REAL FACT: All reptiles poop. All reptiles carry and shed Salmonella bacteria including reptiles native to Florida. Does this mean Florida should go open season on pond turtles as well? Did you notice how many of these reasons for eradication are due to an inconvenience to humans rather than cold, hard ecological facts?

Samantha Plencner agrees firmly with a Parsons-Drake approach to humane reduction of the Green Iguana population based on how abundant they are as a species.

“One humane method is removing eggs from iguana’s nests,” according to Parsons-Drake. “The problem is the females are typically egg-bearing by 2 and half to 3 years old, and they can lay up for 30 eggs annually, so they definitely are breeding and population is increasing […] but we could be destroying the eggs.”

Parsons-Drake

Destroying eggs vs. “smashing skulls in” seems like a far better method.

“Yet another example of government being reckless and irresponsible. The most compassionate plan is always the most successful plan – in every case.”
Samantha Plencner

On a final note, of which could not be said any better,

“Compassion is a sign of intelligence. Let’s see who is smart enough to solve this problem.”
Samantha Plencner

Article by Rae Hartwell and Samantha Plencner, Conservation Scientist

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