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  1. Florida

FWC encourages Florida homeowners to kill green iguanas ‘whenever possible’

Extended warm spells in the state are partly to blame in their population boom, experts say.
FILE - In this June 24, 2018, file photo, iguanas gather on a seawall in the Three Islands neighborhood of Hallandale Beach, Fla. Non-native iguanas are multiplying so rapidly in South Florida that a state wildlife agency is now encouraging people to kill them. A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission news release says people should exterminate the large green lizards on their properties as well as on 22 public lands areas across South Florida. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
Published Jul. 3

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) isn’t interested in conserving the green iguana population in the Sunshine State.

In fact, they want to chop it down. With your help.

The FWC issued a notice this week telling homeowners that there is no permit required “to kill iguanas on their own property, and the FWC encourages homeowners to kill green iguanas on their own property whenever possible.”

Green Iguanas are listed as an invasive species on the FWC’s website.

“Green iguanas are not native to Florida and are considered to be an invasive species due to the damage they can cause to seawalls, sidewalks, and landscape plants,” the site says.

Extended warm spells in Florida — like the current one, where there’s been numerous record highs and no record lows the past 18 months — are helping the iguana population to thrive, according to experts.

“As the climate changes, even slightly, they can be established into Florida counties beyond their present distribution,” Joseph Wasilewski, part of a group of University of Florida scientists who study wildlife in Florida and the Caribbean, told ABC News.

Green iguanas arrived in Florida in the 1960s from Central and South America, the FWC says, and quickly spread to the warmest parts of the state.

Despite their name, green iguanas can also be brown or black, and can grow to be 5 feet in length, the FWC says.

While they were once found only in Miami-Dade County sparingly, they can now be found as far north as the Florida Panhandle. Meanwhile, in the most tropical parts of the state, their population is running rampant, according to homeowners.

“Some days we come home, there’s 20 to 30 of them all over the property,” Mike Espada, a Broward County homeowner, told WPBF. “They’re in our courtyard, and so we actually have to find a different door to get in the house. We’ve become the guests. They’re the residents now.”

For those who feel uneasy about killing an iguana that’s on their property, the FWC recommends removing plants that act as attractants to iguanas, filling in holes to discourage burrowing, hanging wind chimes or other items that make intermittent noises.

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