It may sound brutal but it is very effective. Teams of biologist from the University of Florida are resorting to blunt force trauma to try and get invasive iguana populations under control in south Florida. They trap and hunt the creatures at night and quickly dispatch them with a captive bolt gun or other methods such as like hitting them with hammers or swinging the iguanas hard into concrete.
According to the Washington Post, iguanas arrived in Florida as pets, first appearing in Miami-Dade County in 1966, then in the Keys in 1995 before making a home of Broward County in 2001 and in Palm Beach in 2003. The total population is unknown, but the southern portion of the state has reeled from proliferating numbers. Iguanas can lay dozens of eggs at once.
Florida offers the perfect habitat for the iguanas and with no natural predators their numbers are only going to increase. The university’s work is underwritten by the the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission . The commission provided $63,000 for the research project running through May that also includes weighing and measuring carcasses.
The commission carefully spells out how iguanas can be captured and killed. They recommend using nets, cage traps and noose poles for them. But then it gets complicated.You can kill one with a single blow from say, a shovel, but you must strike true. More than one blow could be animal cruelty punishable by prison time and up to $5,000, Ron Magill, an animal ambassador for Zoo Miami.
“Unless you have an animal that you can have in your hand, [killing humanely] is very hard to do,” Magill said.
The locals are also getting involved by using pellet guns to kill iguanas, provided they are legal in their area. One resident, Gary Fishman, said he has racked up more than 100 iguana kills with his pellet gun.
Iguana meat is edible a from what I hear quite tasty. The people of Puerto Rico have been hunting and eating them for years. As of right now the biologists are disposing of them in a land fill but if they can market them as table fare they might get more people on board with trying to curve their populations.