The Department of Environment is going big in its efforts to reduce the invasive green iguana population on Grand Cayman.
The DOE is hoping to cull 1.4 million green iguanas by the end of 2019, and it has a $9.5 million budget to work with.
“We need to bring the population down and we need to do it significantly,” said DOE Terrestrial Unit Manager Fred Burton.
He told reporters at a Friday afternoon press conference that culling 1.4 million iguanas by the end of 2019 should make a serious dent in Grand Cayman’s green iguana problem.
Last year’s annual survey estimated the green iguana population at 1.1 million. This year’s survey results are not yet available, but the DOE said the numbers are most certainly on the rise.
“We are assuming somewhat in our current projections that it may have gone up to about 1.6 million,” said Mr. Burton.
To manage a cull of this size and scope, the DOE has issued an RFP for a cull manager.
“We are going to need somebody to manage 40, 50, 60, 100, we don’t know how many cullers are out there, to receive iguanas at the landfill, to pay the cullers, to make sure the cullers meet their quotas,” said Mr. Burton.
Mr. Burton said he expects registration for cullers to take place in October.
Caymanians 18 and older and companies with applicable trade and business license will be eligible to register.
“We are going to require people to cull 5,000 iguanas in a year or more, that equates to about 417 actual iguanas a month on average,” said Mr. Burton.
And at five dollars a head, cullers can collect some serious coin for their efforts, provided they can meet an ambitious monthly quota.
“What we are expecting is a mix of companies who are prepared to cull very large numbers, individuals who may be close to that 5,000 threshold, lots of people are interested at 50,000, 75,000 a year,” said Mr. Burton.
To pay for the project, the DOE told reporters its ministry has secured a commitment of $7.3 million in supplemental funding beyond the $2.2 million already allocated for the 2018/2019 budget cycle.
“If we don’t kill a certain number of iguanas over the next 12 months, the project cannot be successful,” said Mr. Burton.
The cull manager will operate an iguana counting and receiving station at the George Town landfill, and ensure cullers adhere to humane culling standards.