12th December 17:45
Funny story about iguanas taking over south Florida! (iguana)
This article just cracks me up, as I'm sure it will, you
BY FRED GRIMM
I've seen our future. It's Gasparilla Island.
Leaping lizards! It's the blight of the iguana
The barrier island off Florida's West Coast, a seven-mile-long
paradise for the rich, the idle rich and the oh-so rich, has been
overrun with aliens, creating a kind of reptilian version of
Congressman Tom Tancredo's Third World nightmare.
The natural hatred for taxes among conservative Republicans who
inhabit Gasparilla has been trumped by their disgust for these big,
fat, lazy, ubiquitous lizards that have taken over their docks,
seawalls, golf courses, yards, garages. Their terrified trophy wives
worry that a Hummer H2 may be too flimsy for the mean streets of
Besieged islanders have created the Iguana Control Advisory Committee
and granted it authority to levy a lizard surtax -- $49 for each
million bucks of assessed value.
A BOUNTIFUL NUISANCE
Bounty hunters are roaming the island collecting $20 a head (or tail)
for each lizard they kill. Provided they dispatch the lizards by the
approved methods: barbiturates, inhalants, pellet guns, freezing,
stunning-and-decapitation (also known as ``the Iraq method''). But
iguana population estimates range from 15,000 to 30,000 (compared to
about a thousand humans) and are growing. Lizard hunting has replaced
real estate speculation as the local growth industry.
It's always amusing to watch an exotic nuisance undermine the good
life of an uppity enclave in Southwest Florida, particularly an uppity
enclave whose residents display an open disdain for the rabble on
Florida's East Coast.
But Gasparilla's plight seems a little less amusing, lately, to anyone
boating along South Florida's stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Hundreds of iguanas sun themselves on bridge abutments. And they've
taken over the waterfront of some of the most fabulous real estate on
the East Coast.
*********They've already overrun the Keys and are moving into
affordable housing in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. ***************
Earlier this month, the Boca Raton City Commission was grappling with
how to pay to tamp down the iguana explosion in Palm Beach County.
A GROWING PROBLEM
''We've seen their population increase exponentially,'' said Wesley
Seitz, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission who specializes in nuisance species. (''I've got plenty of
job security in South Florida.'') And Seitz isn't sure when the
population boom will top off. The lizards, once they reach their four
or five feet in length, have few natural enemies outside of the
automobile and a few brave chefs willing to try exotic Caribbean
Bill Kern, assistant professor of entomology at the University of
Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, said iguanas
seem to prefer South Florida's residential neighborhoods. The
Everglades, with bobcats and alligators and other predators, are just
too dangerous compared to nice homes on quiet streets with lovely
Basically, it's too late. Our only hope may be that the Nile monitors,
our next big exotic outbreak, will gobble up the iguanas. Kern said
those nasty, voracious, meat-eating lizards that grow to the length of
NBA centers are thought to be breeding in South Florida.
A NATURAL SOLUTION
The monitors have already wreaked havoc in Southwest Florida,
particularly Cape Coral, where their population increase can be
measured in the disappearances of household pets.
Of course, like most nasty exotic creatures that are taking over South
Florida, iguanas and monitors (not to mention pythons) got their start
here as discarded pets -- discarded by fools. Kern worries that
monitors, which are fearless and will eat anything, will staunch the
comeback of the formerly endangered alligator.
But maybe they'll develop a taste, instead, for iguanas and put a stop
to a noxious invasion. Better yet, maybe they'll eat the Hummers.