Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Iguanas Becoming a Costly Problem


Almost every evening, as islanders sit down to enjoy their dinner meals with family and friends a story regarding an invasion of the either our nation or another battle over territories around the world seem to bubble to the top of the news feed.

Earlier in February, a similar discussion occurred regarding an invasion of sorts at the city council meeting here on Marco Island. Although we don’t have anyone with the credentials of retired Marine Corps General James Mattis, who recently stepped down as the Secretary of Defense, some feel the challenge may require a professional of his stature to deal with this recent invasion of Iguanas across the island.

This is not a native species to Florida and the green spiny lizards can grow up to 5-6 feet in length and weigh up to 15 to 20 pounds as they mature. They are a species which is native to the Caribbean, South and Central America and have no known predators here in Florida, hence the explosive growth of their population.

Iguanas are not carnivores, therefore small pets are not at risk, however they will protect themselves from both humans and other animals by biting and using their tails to inflict injuries.

They do love hibiscus and bougainvillea and other native plant life. They do not care for crotons, Ixora and oleander plants.

They will eat, chew and destroy boat cushions, tarps and covers. Should you live on a canal or by the water you should regularly check for iguana burrows near the seawalls and throughout your yards. If you find a burrow you should collapse it and add soil if necessary. LCEC, FPL, cable and phone companies have also found the iguanas to be a cause of numerous power and utility outages throughout the state. The iguanas love to chew through the cables, which results in thousands of dollars of repairs.

Another issue lies with the waste product they leave behind all over seawalls, furniture, watercraft and boats.

Homeowners may also deal with iguanas themselves, but it must be done in a humane manner. They may be shot in the head with a pellet gun, which will kill them instantly. Under no circumstances may you discharge a firearm within the Marco city limits. That will lead to arrest, fines and possible jail sentences for the offender, but more importantly it could result in injury or death from an errant round.

At the last meeting of the city council, the amount of $15,000 was allocated to deal with the ongoing issue. The city has expended the $5,000 which was allocated in the 2018-2019 budget. Council Chairman Erik Brechnitz questioned why the city should expend monies to deal with a homeowner’s issue, citing similar issues with vermin and other pests.

Should residents have issues with Iguanas they should contact Tonia Selmeski at City Hall at 239-389-3949 for assistance in dealing with the problem.

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