Researchers and citizens in Florida are on a mission to bash in the heads of every iguana they come upon to annihilate an invasive species responsible for destroying infrastructure in South Florida.
Researchers at the University of Florida are using captive bolt guns that send a bolt into the lizards’ brains. The tool is often used in the livestock industry to put down cows. They’re also using solid objects like rocks and truck tailgates to bludgeon the iguanas to death.
“Most of what we’re doing is blunt force trauma,” Jenny Ketterlin, a wildlife biologist and research coordinator with the University of Florida, told reporters Monday at the Sun Sentinel. “Hitting their head very hard against a solid object.”
Their efforts are part of a $63,000 research project designed to find the best way to remove iguanas and offer tips to homeowners on how to eliminate the pests from their yards.
Carli Segelson, a spokeswoman with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the group responsible for contracting the project, told reporters iguanas are causing soil erosion.
“Iguanas are an invasive species in Florida and can be a nuisance to homeowners or impact native wildlife,” she said. “Iguanas can feed on native plants and wildlife and dig into areas that may cause erosion.”
Floridians are fully on-board the effort to eliminate the pesky lizard.
South Florida resident Gary Fishman says he’s killed more than 100 iguanas with a pellet gun to protect his landscaping. “The iguana does not belong here,” he said. “They need to be annihilated. They can’t be relocated. So they must be destroyed.”
Record low temperatures in January presented Florida officials with a unique opportunity to capture and relocate iguanas. Near freezing temperatures caused the state’s iguana populations to go into a catatonic state and plummet from their tree perches.
Green iguanas, most of which can grow up to 5 feet in length, are known for creating burrows and tunnels that can damage infrastructure. Their droppings can also be sources of salmonella bacteria.
Temperatures in the southern part of the state dipped below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature at which iguanas usually freeze. The cold-blooded creature gets sluggish when temperatures fall below 50 F.
Arctic blasts have blanketed most of the country underneath a thick sheen of snow; icy conditions have hit southern states as well. It snowed briefly for the first time in 28 years in Tallahassee.
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