Friday, November 16, 2018

Invasive iguanas and upcoming Fall/Winter Season in South Florida: What you need to know.

As bad as the iguana infestation is this year in many areas in South Florida, next year could very well be much worse. And what is just as troubling is The Palm Beach Post has yet to report any news at all about this situation. One could say the editor(s) at the Post are avoiding this issue, “like the plague”.

How bad exactly is it? Bad enough that a Palm Beach County commissioner has sounded the alarm.

Here is the reason why.

Mother Nature in South Florida only has one answer to solving the infestation of iguanas. And that is 2–3 days of very cold weather with overcast skies so the critters cannot warm their bodies up during the daytime.

When the temperature hovers near freezing on the first night it zaps the reptile’s energy but they can still hang on. On day two around midnight is when they begin falling out of trees which sounds funny but it’s not if it lands on your head or on your pets head. Or your car. A case example is what occurred during The Great Iguana Crisis of 2009 here in the City of Lake Worth (learn more about that below).

And then on Day 3 when the sun goes down it’s “Thump! Thump! Thump!” all night long. It’s not all bad though for those who enjoy eating iguana and below are a few new recipes. But for everyone else hope for the best.

Because if this weather prediction is accurate, well, we’re in for some deep doo-doo next Spring and Summer:

The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a mild Winter in South Florida. That is good news for iguanas and very bad news for humans. To learn more continue reading.

And please note: This blog post today is a longer read than the typical post on this blog — but if the topic of iguanas and this year’s infestation is of interest to you then everything you need to know is below — including an alarming press release from a Palm Beach County commissioner.

This year’s iguana infestation was big news in the Sun Sentinel, The Coastal Star, and other press outlets but incredulously this news has yet to be reported in The Palm Beach Post.

This is no joke. This very serious problem was first noted in Miami-Dade and Broward counties in the Sun Sentinel last June (see news below). Reporter Dan Moffet at The Coastal Star broke the news about the infestation of iguanas here in Central Palm Beach County earlier in October.

The problem with iguanas has gotten so bad in Palm Beach County that County Commissioner Steven Abrams had issued a press release:

Many residents in South County (including myself) are experiencing ongoing problems with the growing population of iguanas. I recently met with officials at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) to discuss the problem.

See the entire press release from Commissioner Abrams at the end of this blog post [FYI: Robert S. Weinroth is now the District 4 PBC Commissioner, winning election on Nov. 6th; Commissioner Abrams was term-limited and could not run for another term].

Ways to eliminate iguanas, news from WLRN reporter Nancy Klingener:

According to the FWC [Fish and Wildlife Commission], iguanas are not protected in Florida — except by anti-animal cruelty laws. It is legal to shoot them on private property during daylight hours with the property owners’ permission — but everyone should check with their local law enforcement agency about local laws regarding firearms before discharging them. [emphasis added]

DO NOT HUNT IGUANA within municipal limits or in unincorporated areas in Palm Beach County with a shotgun, rifle, handgun, crossbow, bow and arrow, blow gun, or any weapon that fires a projectile unless you contact PBSO first (or your local law enforcement agency) and find out what the rules are. More helpful information:

  • For the video, “How to Kill and Eat an Iguana” click on this link.
  • Recommended on this blog is the grilled tail with Wicked Okra and crusted Sriracha and also quite a delicacy are Iguana Carnitas Tacos using other cuts of meat from this invasive pest.
  • Here in the City of Lake Worth many iguana meat lovers call Hot n’ Sweet Mango Sauce “to die for”, an essential with any iguana dish.

    But, once again, for some reason this news about iguanas has yet to become news in the Post.

    The news about iguanas should be front page news in food section too. Iguanas are referred to as Gallinas de Palo (“Chicken of the Tree” in Spanish) and they are delicious! Really. It’s true. Especially when cooked on a gas grill because “Nine out of 10 professional chefs” prefer clean Green natural gas to propane.

    Iguanas, if you didn’t know, are not native to South Florida. You see them around because people buy them as pets and release them when the creature gets too big. The population of iguanas goes away after a deep freeze. Ergo, that sound you hear of something falling out of the tree and hitting the ground with a loud “Thump” which is what happened during The Great Iguana Crisis of 2009. Read more about that particular pestilence (aka, “plague”) a little later.

    Sun Sentinel reporters Ellie Rushing and Doreen Christensen broke this story last June. A pestilence that has reached Central Palm Beach County. But the all-important “clicks” and social media ‘kicks’ at the Post are still mostly focused on the ‘red tide’ and that blue-green stuff further up north, you know, that other plague, the ‘blue-green algae’ one.

    Just be patient. When the clicks start trending down they’ll be searching for other stuff like more exciting recipes if you happen to be a connoisseur of iguana tails and other prime cuts from the genus Iguana rhinolophus.

    Click on this link to read about “Out of control iguanas infesting South Florida”, an excerpt from the Sentinel by reporters Rushing and Christensen:

    South Florida’s not quite Jurassic Park, but it’s getting close.
         Packs of green iguanas are swarming seawalls, roaming yards and parks, and leaving a path of destruction and filth in their wake. Like a shot of espresso, the hot summer sun has stoked activity in the cold-blooded creatures, which experts say may be at record numbers.
         “This year is the most iguanas I’ve seen and I’ve been in business for nine years,” says Thomas Portuallo, owner of Fort Lauderdale-based Iguana Control. [emphasis added] He says the invasive lizards are out of control with “many hundreds of thousands” creeping around Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

    Now to The Great Iguana Crisis nine years ago. Case example: The tiny City of Lake Worth.

    What happened during The Great Iguana Crisis of 2009 here in the City of Lake Worth is the stuff of lore and legend. Jeff Clemens was the mayor of this City then and it was during this crisis when Anarchist Cara Jennings (a former commissioner, 2006–2010) rose to the challenge that Winter nine years ago. It was bad. Real bad. Iguanas were everywhere. A true plague in every sense. Unless, of course, you’re an afficionado of perfectly cooked and seasoned iguana tail, legs, loin, strip, etc.

    Back in January 2009 was a dangerous time for Lake Worth residents including a report of a Yorkshire Terrier being squashed by an iguana that froze and fell out of a tree. In a blog post written back then by the inimitable Mr. Tom McGow (see below), then-Mayor Jeff Clemens was quoted:

    “We are in a state of crisis this morning,”
    stated Lake Worth Mayor Jeff Clemens. “We will be closing all city parks until this crisis has passed.

    There’s more about that crisis in 2009 below — one in which Cara Jennings was a big part in resolving to the benefit of everyone — including the freezing cold iguanas for a future dish that tastes a whole lot like chicken.

    Mr. McGow, if you didn’t know, was quite the creative type here in the City of Lake Worth back in the day.

    Take for example his take on “Green Acres”:

    “Remember the TV show ‘Green Acres’? You know, the one about the city guy who wanted to live in the
    boonies and his wife who was always
    fussing about the hillbillies.”

    And Mr. McGow went on to conclude in 2009 about ‘Green Acres’:

    “Too bad the town to the west of us is already named Greenacres. If a certain someone is elected mayor it might be a more fitting name for Lake Worth.”

    Back to The Great Iguana Crisis
    in Winter of 2009:

    Dateline: Monday, January 19, 2009,
    City of Lake Worth, Florida:

         The chilly weather in South Florida this week was cold enough to force some iguanas to fall from trees.
         Experts say the cold-blooded reptiles go into a deep sleep when the temperature falls into the 40s. Their bodies basically shut off and they lose their grip on the tree.

    and. . . 

         “[Cara] Jennings has proposed shutting down the courts at the shuffleboard center and enclosing them as a haven for the iguanas. ‘I have already looked in to a State Grant Program to provide heating pads and lettuce for the Iguanas until this crisis passes’, commented Jennings.

    If you haven’t figured it out by now the ‘news’ above about Jeff Clemens and Cara Jennings was an excellent parody by the inimitable former blogger Tom McGow.

    But in all seriousness, 2009 was a very bad year for iguana infestation. So in preparation for this Winter it might be a good idea to find recipes ahead of time for cooking the “Chicken of the Tree”. For most people, if you recall, grilling is the preferred method.

    If you’re interested in learning more about The Great Iguana Crisis click on this link to read the entire article by the inimitable Mr. McGow. . .

    AND REMEMBER! If it looks like a very cold Winter is coming up later this year keep your ear out for that very usual sound. . .

    It’s Dinnertime!

     The Iguana, genus Iguana rhinolophus.

    The pest, or as some people call it, dinner.

    Hope you found this blog post informative, helpful and entertaining as well and Thank Your for visiting today. And without further ado. . .

    Press Release. Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams,
    “Dealing with Iguanas”:

    Many residents in South County (including myself) are experiencing ongoing problems with the growing population of iguanas. I recently met with officials at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) to discuss the problem. The bottom line is these pesky creatures are here to stay and we must learn to live with them. Unfortunately, they reproduce in large numbers and can wreak havoc on our property.

    There is a lot of helpful information on dealing with these pesky creatures provided by the FFWCC at their website. Here are some recommendations on discouraging iguanas:

    • Never feed iguanas.
    • Keep a water hose ready and available to spray basking iguanas on pool decks or boats.
    • A startling noise will also create an unwelcome atmosphere for a sunning iguana.
    • Hang CDs near seawalls or dangle them like wind chimes from trees or prized plants. Their reflective surfaces often scare away iguanas.
    • Protect plants with cages or screen enclosures.
    • Use iguana-resistant plants such as citrus, milkweed, pigeon plum, oleanders, coonties, etc., in your landscape.
    • Avoid planting iguana favorites such as hibiscus, orchids, impatiens, roses, garden greens, melons, etc.
    • Remove protective cover such as dense thickets and piles of landscape timber or rocks.
    • Fill vacant burrows with rocks.

    This FFWCC link provides additional information on removal, deterrents and prevention of iguanas.

    Please feel free to contact the FWCC Regional office at 561-625-5122 to speak with a wildlife assistance biologist or an exotic species biologist.