4 September – Department of Environment (DoE) scientists have finished the fieldwork for the annual Green Iguana survey on Grand Cayman and are currently evaluating results with an eye toward reporting updated population estimates for the invasive species sometime in October.
For the last five years DoE surveys and subsequent data evaluation, performed with the expert assistance of Dr. Frank Rivera-Milan of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have shown the Green Iguana population increasing five-fold between 2014 and 2018 (from about 254,000 to about 1.3 million).
“We believe the new data will show a decline in those numbers,” said DoE Terrestrial Resources Unit Manager Fred Burton. “However, let no one believe that by the time we report these figures we will have culled all of the Green Iguanas remaining in Cayman. We must remember this year’s hatchlings are now emerging and the cullers are now in a race to keep pace with them.”
To combat the prolific breeding lizards, three culler registration efforts have been held since the start of the Grand Cayman Green Iguana Cull Project. As a result, more than 500 people have signed up to cull the invasive species leading to the delivery of more than 870,000 Green Iguanas to the George Town landfill.
DoE officials have recorded 513 registrations – including companies, teams and individual cullers – for the cull project.
“At this stage, the DoE and our cull management company, Cornwall Consulting Ltd., feel like we’ve done everything we can to register interested Caymanians to participate in the cull,” Mr. Burton said. “However, if anyone is still interested in signing up, they can head down to the landfill site between 8am and 5.30pm Monday-Saturday, as registration for the project has been left open-ended.”
All cull participants must be Caymanian and at least 18 years old. Participants who wish to use an air rifle to cull Green Iguanas must first obtain a licence for such device from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. Cullers must adhere to all laws and regulations existing in the Cayman Islands. The cull registration does not give anyone permission to enter private property without the property owner’s consent, and iguanas must be culled humanely.
The Green Iguana Cull Project is expected to continue through to the end of 2019. Mr. Burton said funding to continue the cull through 2020 and 2021 has yet to be confirmed.
“To this point, the Green Iguana cullers, the Cornwall Consulting management team and DoE officers have been more than equal to the task to rid our islands of these pests,” said Temporary Minister of Environment, Councillor Eugene Ebanks. “We thank the public for their patience and support, and remind them that we will need their continued full support to reach our target.”