There are roughly four million iguanas living on the island of Puerto Rico and government officials aren’t too happy about this. These iguanas have been blamed for taking over airport runways, tunneling under buildings and destroying its foundations, as well as building nests near electric plants.
In most countries, iguanas are extinct. However, in Puerto Rico it’s a completely different situation. With more iguanas than their human population, the species is starting to take over the island. These reptiles that can grow up to six feet long and have a life span of 20 years, are breeding so quickly that there is no way to make them stop.
Government officials are in the process of putting together a plan to solve this issue. They have announced a plan to kill as many iguanas as they can and export their meat.
Daniel Galan Kercado, secretary of the Department of Natural Resources said that “this is a very big problem. We have to attack it.” Since these iguanas have impacted the crops and the economy so drastically, officials feel this could be the best way to resolve it. The governor also agreed saying that by killing these iguanas for export, it economically benefits the island during the current recession it’s having.
Puerto Rico’s Department of Health has approved this plan and is allowing an agency to train volunteers to capture the iguanas and take them to a processing center. At the processing center, they will kill these reptiles and distribute them to the U.S. The plan is set to be finalized May 2012.
Demand for iguana meat is high in the U.S. in states where there is many Latino or Asian immigrants. Officials say this meat can be sold for roughly six dollars a pound. However, they are still looking for a company that can help with the processing and exporting.
There are some critics who don’t support what is being done and think that this plan could possibly be dangerous. Javier Laureona, a scientist who runs a conservation in Puerto Rico, is worried about whether there will be adequate health precautions taken. He thinks the meat needs to be looked at carefully before distribution for others to eat. He also says that iguanas are already being mistreated and that people not only burn them, but run them over with their cars. Measures should be taken, but this issue shouldn’t be turned into a “witch hunt.”