Iguanas have become such a problem in South Florida that it has reached epidemic proportions. They are wreaking havoc on the ecosystem, as well as causing problems for people and businesses as well. Well, there is now a bill that very well might ban the possession and sale of iguanas in Florida.
The bill introduced by state Senator Gary Farmer is seeking to help rid the state of the invasive green iguana by banning the sale or possession of the reptiles altogether.
Farmer’s legislation SB 906 would update the statute restricting the possession or trade of various reptiles by adding the green iguana (and Argentine black and white tegu) to the banned reptile list.
Both species are non-native to Florida.
State Representative (and farmer) Michael Gottlieb introduced bills during the 2019 Session seeking to do the same. Those efforts died in committee.
The Problem With the Green Iguana
The green iguana has been labeled an invasive species by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The reptiles are native to Central and South America, as well as some Caribbean islands but have now become prevalent in South Florida and in parts of the Gulf Coast near Fort Myers.
“Green iguanas cause damage to residential and commercial landscape vegetation and are often considered a nuisance by property owners,” according to the FWC. They can also spread salmonella.
The green iguana population has grown so much that the FWC actually allows Floridians to kill the nuisance animals year-round and without a permit on twenty-two FWC managed public lands as a means of controlling their growth.
Homeowners are also being encouraged to remove the animals from their property and seek out euthanasia services from a vet or humane society.
The bill would add to population control efforts by stating an individual, firm, corporation or other organization may not “keep, possess, import into the state, sell, barter, trade, or breed” iguanas.
The lizards are breeding in Hillsborough and Miami-Dade counties and are a threat to other species.
“Potential impacts of tegus include competition with and preying upon Florida’s native wildlife, including some imperiled and protected species,” the FWC says.
The animals, who are sometimes kept as exotic pets, are seen as a potential threat to the Everglades.
If Farmer’s bill is approved, the iguanas would be added to a banned reptile list that includes the Burmese python, green anaconda and five other species.
The measure would go into effect on July 1, 2020.
You may be asking what happens to those iguanas that already being kept as pets? Well, those who obtain a permit before the July date to keep the animals may do so until the animal dies.
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