Iguana predation to continue

A wary green iguana soaks up some sun at its home on a lake off Balmoral Drive on Marco Island.

Photo by QUENTIN ROUX, Staff // Buy this photo

A wary green iguana soaks up some sun at its home on a lake off Balmoral Drive on Marco Island.

Green iguana

Green iguana

City environmental specialist Nancy Richie and iguana trapper Chris Harlow explain why they believe the iguana trapping program should continue. Councilors agreed at their meeting Monday.

Photo by KELLY FARRELL, Staff // Buy this photo

City environmental specialist Nancy Richie and iguana trapper Chris Harlow explain why they believe the iguana trapping program should continue. Councilors agreed at their meeting Monday.

— It ain't easy being green on Marco Island. At least not this summer, as Marco continues its program to trap the non-native green iguana.

Council voted unanimously to approve a program to trap and kill iguanas for another six months at a cost of $7,500. Trapper Chris Harlow, of Cape Coral, wore a bright yellow T-shirt, which read “Lizard Control,” and he received several compliments on it from councilors and residents.

Councilman Ted Forcht made what Popoff called “the strangest motion ever” when the issue of whether to continue the iguana abatement program began Monday.

“This is like the Vietnam War ... We gotta keep the body count up. If we’re gonna fight a war, let’s fight a war,” Forcht said.

“Is that a motion?” Popoff asked.

Forcht said yes, and with that, the program continues based on a 7-0 council vote.

In an interview after the decision, Harlow shared some of the tricks in catching a green iguana, which is Marco’s most common non-native reptile pest and has few predators once an adult.

“I grab them behind the back legs, near the tail, which immobilizes them,” he said.

City environmental specialist Nancy Richie said in addition to the hundreds of phone calls from residents seeking assistance in removing the pests, she also gets several calls of concern about trapping and euthanizing them.

“That’s where the education comes in,” she said.

Richie said the non-native species are competing with limited populations of burrowing owls, shore birds, gopher tortoises and sea turtles.

Harlow said he has a great respect for iguanas, due particularly to their resiliency.

“They can go months without eating. They can lose a limb without even blinking an eye. Not like us ... ” Harolw said.

The first six month trial program began in November at a cost of $7,500 and will be continued at the same cost in the warmer months, which Harlow said will likely aid in greater success.

Harlow only traps green iguanas where his assistance has been requested. If residents would like his help, call city environmental specialist Nancy Richie at City Hall, 389-5003.

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Comments » 1

suntan writes:

It would make more sense to BAN the Sale of non-native "REPTILES" in Pet stores. Who in their right mine thinks a reptile is a good pet???

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