Author Topic: All the hubbub about Iguanas...  (Read 478 times)

Bullfrog

  • Administrator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 195
All the hubbub about Iguanas...
« on: July 21, 2019, 08:03:18 PM »
Bah.

Iguanas have been in South Florida for decades. They come from escaped and dumped pets that began to breed wherever conditions were favorable. South of Tampa, Florida rarely gets a frost. In those frost-free zones, tropical wildlife thrives. South Florida has hundreds of species of introduced reptiles and a few amphibians that have established large breeding populations. Green iguanas just happen to be more visible because they're plant eaters that tear up people's lawns and gardens. They are reaching a saturation point because there hasn't been a frost to sweep down that way in about a decade or so. If a big frost will happen, it will kill many of them.

They've always been legal to harvest with an air rifle on privately-owned land with the landowner's permission. Exotic animals generally have no protections in Florida and can be harvested at will. What's new is that in 2017, the state wildlife agency opened up several public hunting areas to year-round exotic reptile hunting. The purpose of the order was really to focus on pythons over iguanas, but the order applied to iguanas and any other exotic reptile equally. And recently, the FWC put out a press release drawing attention to the fact that the order in question could apply to iguanas as well as pythons. That is all. Nothing has really "changed" in Florida. The State is just making a push to make the regulations known so more iguanas get killed. It is unusual for the state wildlife agency to make an announcement drawing attention to the hunting of a particular exotic, especially one like the iguana which is having little impact on native wildlife. The iguana has no native reptiles its competing with. The only major reptile plant grazer we have is the gopher tortoise, and it doesn't live in the same habitat or regions of the state that iguanas do.

Florida's wildlife decisions are wrought with politics that has to do with our shifting demographics. In 1960, before Disney came to Florida, Florida's population was 4.5 million. The population was largely rural people who lived off the land as farmers and hunters. In 2018, Florida's population was over 21 million and still growing. With the exception of the Everglades, Central and South Florida has been mostly despoiled and developed. What was once beautiful tropical woods are now unbroken cities. Some exceptions are some of the cattle lands north of the Everglades and south of Orlando that are owned by a few families and the Mormon church (the Mormons' ranch is the largest cattle operation in the US, and it too is about to be carved up and developed). The Commissioners who make wildlife decisions in Florida for the state wildlife agency are nearly all prominent South Florida developers.

That's all relevant as to why iguanas are being targeted now. They aren't really hurting anything in terms of Florida's natural environment. They're just a nuisance for millions of homeowners in south Florida who can't have anything nice in their lawns because of the iguanas munching on anything green and succulent. So you've got homeowners and resort operators wanting "something" done about the iguanas. But we also have a large transplant population of anti-hunters that are now up in arms about iguanas being killed and at the recent FWC meeting they were asking that the state only allow "humane" iguana removal, whatever that means. The FWC may or may not blow off the anti-hunters. Currently the FWC is the only state agency that can manage hunting. Even the elected Legislature may not regulate hunting. However, the Florida constitution is easy to amend by ballot. Against the backdrop of iguana hunting is the desire by many Floridian homeowners and state biologists to reopen bear hunting. We have an overpopulation of black bears in Florida that need to be culled, but when bear hunting was opened up a few years ago the anti-hunters waged a nation-wide anti-Florida campaign. It scared the FWC that their constitutional authority to regulate hunting might be stripped away if the antis organized a ballot initiative to ban bear hunting. Therefore there hasn't been a bear hunt since. It gave the antis a sort of power they've never had in Florida. So I'm concerned now that there was some discussion about what constitutes "humane" iguana control.

I observed a road-killed iguana about 400 miles to the north of Miami this past spring. However, because frosts are common up in North Florida, I suspect it was either a recent escapee or dumped pet, or alternatively had been one that figured out how to hibernate thru the cold snaps in a warm area. I have observed that one of our exotic amphibians, the Cuban treefrog, will come indoors or even bury itself under water to avoid frosts (I caught one submerged in an aquarium once under my gravel).

I'd much whether have iguanas and other exotic animals in Florida than millions of transplant urbanites that are raping Florida's environment. I despise the development and I despise the fact that the antis who have moved her are the same people who are destroying the environment so they can keep having their Starbucks and their Mother Earth supermarkets. They think a 80K acre park is a "wild" place. They never knew wild Florida, and my daughter probably never will. My family comes from a region called Gulf Hammock, one of the last places on the peninsula that isn't state owned that hasn't been developed. Our new governor signed a bill weeks ago to develop that region for the benefit of south Floridians who want to have alternative means of travel in and out of Florida besides the interstate system. When I found out about it while I was at work I shut the door to my office and wept. Screw both the developers that want that and the south Florida inhabitants who love their convenience more than Florida's woods.

So you can see where south Florida pretty much runs the state to the state's detriment. Not unlike what I hear about California. And this whole hubbub about iguanas ties right into the cancer that's eating Florida. And it isn't iguanas...

PS, the Everglades has a sizable breeding population of king cobras. But the state doesn't want you to know that. I know it because I come from a FWC family, I used to hunt with the head state biologist and a Commissioner, and I prosecute the FWC's poaching cases in my part of the state. The stories I could tell about what the state has lied about concerning wildlife in Florida, especially the Florida panther.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2019, 09:19:42 PM by Bullfrog »



Alan

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2611
  • Set the example... Don't be one!
    • Mobile Amateur Radio
Re: All the hubbub about Iguanas...
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2019, 04:43:17 AM »
Thank you for sharing.

In the final analysis, I don't think the wildlife office (whatever it is named) in Florida, or California, is any different than the one in New Mexico. In that, they have become politicized in the name of the almighty dollar. As I've mentioned previously, the inane protection of the nutria here in New Mexico is a typical example.

You also mentioned the antis, who take their rhetoric from the likes of PETA et. al. Perhaps one way to fight that issue, is to import a few Rocky Mountain grizzles, and let them eat a few of the antis. Which to me, would be a win-win!
  • Roswell, New Mexico
Alan

I have an Omega compressor. If you're a fellow Guild member, and you pass through Roswell, NM, I'll fill your portable tank as a courtesy.

steveoh

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1785
    • Airgun FPE Calculator
Re: All the hubbub about Iguanas...
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2019, 08:25:29 AM »
Wow, this is a really good post Travis.

After landing in Florida in 76 I pretty quickly became interested in fishing and hunting.
I always had a fishing rod and tackle in my car and often had a canoe on the roof. I fished orange grove lakes and ponds and in the seasonal ponds that would form alongside roads. I was always amazed at the numbers and sizes of bluegills and other sunfish I’d catch. A 2-3 pound large mouth bass was common too.

Somewhere along the line Fish and Wildlife folks started experimenting with stocking orange grove lakes with Tilapia to control hydrilla (an invasive aquarium plant). The Tilapia were supposed to be sterile and vegetarians. Funny thing, they created beds all over these lakes and made babies like rats and rabbits. Another funny thing is I caught them one after the other on my favorite lure the Heddon Sonic, which looks like a fish and not a stalk of broccoli.

I had visited my Grandmother in Orlando all through my childhood and saw the rapid growth of the state while flying over and into and from the highways when we drove. After moving there the uncontrolled growth became much more obvious.

In addition to fishing the orange groves I’d ceaselessly wander the pine woods around the then Florida Technological University later to become UCF. I’d roam around the Little Econlockhatchee and fish for huge Alligator Gar because they were so much fun on my 4lb test ultralight gear.

I fished the St Johns way down on Hwy 50, and dodge the water moccasins and 12-14 foot gators sunning on the banks.

I fished the Indian River and the salt water flats of Mosquito Lagoon, by Cape Canaveral and Playlinda Beach. The land in that area was highly populated by pigs. 

The best part of Florida was my friends and family and wildness that was so accessible back then. These days Florida is overgrown with ugly condos and way too many people.

I know all my old fishing holes have long been surrounded by homes with lavish green lawns kept that way with excessive use of fertilizer and pesticides, all of which wash off into the lakes and filter down to the aquifer.

Now the exotics are taking over the state.

Is it any wonder I left in 91 and refuse to ever move back?

By birth I was 4th generation Floridian. But I gave it up for California which has its own issues with invasive species.

Iguanas? Sure, let’s go hunting.
  • Benicia, California
Quackenbush .58 Outlaw
Shooting Chairs
Vallejo Ferry Schedule
DAQ .458 LA Outlaw Rifle
Sam Yang 909s .45
Sam Yang Sumatra .25
RWS Diana 350Magnum Compact Pro .22
QB-79 .177
Crosman 1322
Crosman 1377 - HoRodded 10 FPE
Diana Model 27 (childhood airgun)
Tolman Skiff
Airgun Calculator

bnowlin

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 545
  • Just a Plain Ole Country Boy
Re: All the hubbub about Iguanas...
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2019, 06:21:15 PM »
I've only been to Florida a few times.  Everytime by air and didn't get to see anything except wall to wall civilization like from Palm Spring thru LA in Ca.  I honestly believe all those exotic vermin were taken in there by all the antis as you call them from their warm apartments up north and either escaped or were let out for one reason or the other.  they just didn't get there.   The antis will get thru ruining the place and move somewhere else so they can ruin that place.
A short story about Florida where a friend of mine was in the Coast Guard in South Fl. and they caught or captured square Groupers all the time. ::)

Also in Houston, people dumped their aquarium fish in the drainage ditches that criss cross the area.  And multiply like you said. I didn't mind that as I made a considerable amount of money selling the really pretty ones to some  8) pet stores.  Same wit parrots and parakeets.  We couldn't stand that place sold out there and move back to East Texas to Gods country. 

We moved back up here before we sold down there and you talking about luck.  We got our asking price and closed for direct deposit to on Friday the 13 th and the bottom fell out on Monday. Whew enough said we are home and we basically do what we want.   I mean excuse me, SHE does what she wants.   I buy my guns and tell her I have won them on the Guild, after I won the shooting bench from you guys  :D lol not lol but you know.  I didn't say anything about her 6 sewing machines one of which was $9K+ and another was 5K. :'(
Bobn





steveoh

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1785
    • Airgun FPE Calculator
Re: All the hubbub about Iguanas...
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2019, 01:58:30 PM »
Squeaking of Iguanas, I wonder if there are still all those feral monkeys around Silver Springs?
  • Benicia, California
Quackenbush .58 Outlaw
Shooting Chairs
Vallejo Ferry Schedule
DAQ .458 LA Outlaw Rifle
Sam Yang 909s .45
Sam Yang Sumatra .25
RWS Diana 350Magnum Compact Pro .22
QB-79 .177
Crosman 1322
Crosman 1377 - HoRodded 10 FPE
Diana Model 27 (childhood airgun)
Tolman Skiff
Airgun Calculator

Bullfrog

  • Administrator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 195
Re: All the hubbub about Iguanas...
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2019, 11:42:57 AM »
Yes, the monkeys are still there and ever growing. On my Youtube channel I have a video of some hanging out at a place I was tent camping far north on the Ocklawaha.

If it were true that FWC officers quietly make trips to the Ocala area to airgun hunt them in mass, I would not be in a position to confirm or discuss such activities.   ;)
« Last Edit: July 29, 2019, 11:44:45 AM by Bullfrog »

Alan

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2611
  • Set the example... Don't be one!
    • Mobile Amateur Radio
Re: All the hubbub about Iguanas...
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2019, 11:56:05 AM »
Some years back, I had an encounter with a monkey, not too far from Port St. Lucy. At the time, I thought is was rabid, but tests confirmed otherwise after the monkey was dispatched. As the time, I was told the monkey issue was in control, but now I learn, maybe it isn't. I know I'd shoot one if it was on my property, regardless of the law.
  • Roswell, New Mexico
Alan

I have an Omega compressor. If you're a fellow Guild member, and you pass through Roswell, NM, I'll fill your portable tank as a courtesy.

Bullfrog

  • Administrator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 195
Re: All the hubbub about Iguanas...
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2019, 01:05:13 PM »
On private property, I do not think the feral monkeys are protected in Florida. The FWC just doesn’t make statements that encourage hunting of them due to the PR backlash that would happen.

On public land the FWC has never provided a clear statement on legally harvesting them. On one hand, public land usually only allows what the FWC specifies. There is no monkey season for public land. On the other hand, exotics don’t have protection as it is, so monkeys are probably legal on public land in seasons otherwise open to hunting of other specified game.

The monkeys used to be big money for trappers who caught them for the pharmaceutical companies. I am not sure if that practice continues or not.