FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Iguanas that are non-native to the state of Florida are multiplying so rapidly that a state wildlife agency is now encouraging people to kill them. The Green Iguana has been in South Florida since the 1960s, but their numbers have increased dramatically in recent years.
People should exterminate the large green lizards on their properties as well as on 22 public land areas across South Florida, according to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission news release. However, it does not say just how civilians should try to kill them.
“Homeowners do not need a permit to kill iguanas on their own property, and the FWC encourages homeowners to kill green iguanas on their own property whenever possible,” the agency says.
Iguanas do not pose any risk towards humans, but they are known to damage seawalls, sidewalks, landscape foliage, and can dig lengthy tunnels. These animals also can carry salmonella bacteria.
“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 wildlife commission says.
Female iguanas can lay approximately 80 eggs a year and given the warm tropical climate of South Florida, this makes it the perfect breeding ground for these animals. Iguanas are native to Central America, tropical parts of South America, and some Caribbean islands.
Some iguanas have been reported in northern parts of Florida, but they do not take to cold weather easily, the commission says. During cold weather snaps iguanas will frequently drop from trees and appear dead, but left alone they will revive.
Iguanas are allowed to be kept as pets in Florida but are not protected by any law except anti-cruelty to animals, according to the commission. Iguana owners who can no longer care for their pet iguana are encouraged by the wildlife commission to surrender them to the agency under an Exotic Pet Amnesty Program that lines up the animals with people willing to adopt them.