Florida officials backtrack on killing iguanas ‘whenever possible’: ‘This is not the ‘wild west’

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Wildlife officials in the Sunshine State are backtracking after encouraging homeowners to “kill iguanas on their own property” as the population booms.

Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) earlier this month told residents that no special permit was required to kill the non-native reptile on their own land, and urged them to do it “whenever possible.”

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But on Thursday, authorities toned down their initial rhetoric, writing in a statement: “Unfortunately, the message has been conveyed that we are asking the public to just go out there and shoot them up. This is not what we are about; this is not the ‘wild west.’”

Officials said that the creatures “can cause considerable damage to infrastructure, including seawalls and sidewalks.”

Wildlife scientist Joseph Wasilewski, of the University of Florida, previously told ABC News that green iguanas “will destroy agriculture, undermine roads, cause electrical transformers to fail, they can transmit salmonella and can be an FAA safety hazard.”

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Wasilewski said “there is no alternative for the problems” other than to “put down” green iguanas, which are native to Central and South America, and only appeared in Florida in the 1960s.

The “invasive species” is not protected in Florida except by anti-cruelty laws. Iguanas, per the FWC, can be deterred by being sprayed with water or being startled with noise, and homeowners hang CD-roms or place other shiny things on shrubbery they’d like to protect, along with filling in homes, to deter them.

Fox News’ Bradford Betz contributed to this report.