Today, the Humane Society of the United States and its affiliate, the South Florida Wildlife Center, released a statement in response to the organized killing of iguanas in Florida.
Debra Parsons-Drake, SFWC executive director and senior director of animal rescue, care and sanctuary at The HSUS, urged residents not to replicate this deadly violence. “South Florida Wildlife Center respects and adheres to local, state and national laws pertaining to wildlife and we never turn away an animal in distress. We strongly urge residents to first try humane methods of co-existing with their wild neighbors. Homemade, inexpensive deterrents and sensor-activated sprinklers can keep iguanas away from plants. Unless you hand feed or pick up a wild iguana, bites are unlikely and they pose little threat to people or pets.”
“The killing of iguanas in Florida is unnecessary, inhumane and will ultimately be ineffective,” said Nicole Paquette, HSUS vice president for wildlife protection. “Conflicts with iguanas can be mitigated, and any killing that is done other than by properly-applied American Veterinary Medical Association approved methods is unacceptable, as is clearly the case with the brutal approach of banging iguanas against walls and boats.”
Lethal control seldom results in a sustainable or humane solution for wildlife conflicts. Depopulation efforts concerning any non-native species require a long-term multi-dimensional approach that includes regulation, public education, exclusion, nonlethal controls, habitat modification and, in some cases, targeted capture and humane euthanasia. It is better to mitigate existing conflicts as measures are taken to reduce the number of animals introduced through the pet trade and reduce the number of animals through a more humane method like egg removal.
Florida has one of the worst invasive amphibian and reptile problems in the world, caused primarily by the pet trade. “If FWC is going to pursue depopulation they need a comprehensive management plan that at a minimum has achievable goals and uses acceptable humane methods of killing,” said Paqeutte. “However, no invasive reptile species has ever been eradicated through management efforts, which underscores the need for prevention. We urge the Fish and Wildlife Commission to immediately reconsider the methods they are utilizing to kill iguanas and to implement a ban on the purchase, sale, and possession of potentially invasive species in the state.”