Iguana panel meets, discusses ongoing lizard eradication methodology

May 4, 2021
By Marcy Shortuse

BY MARCY SHORTUSE – The Gasparilla Island Municipal Service Benefit Unit, a.k.a. the “iguana panel,” held their regularly scheduled advisory meeting on Friday, April 23, and discussion featured a commitment to continue discussions with state entities to allow iguana trapper George Cera permission to hunt on lands they own.

Currently Cera is not allowed to eradicate iguanas on state lands, which allows the animals to have a safe haven. Property that borders state lands has always seen an increased iguana presence, including Boca Bay where iguana numbers are always high.

Lee County Representative Josh Malo said he would attempt to coordinate with the State of Florida to see if it would be possible for Cera to take iguanas on their property at some point in the future.

The committee also discussed past protocols for private property owners, including the Boca Grande Pass Club, as far as residents setting their own traps. When Cera was asked if he would remove the trapped iguana’s for disposal, he explained that if private owners would follow proper procedures that include setting traps only during the daytime, checking their traps at least every 24 hours, closing the traps at night, releasing wildlife other than iguanas caught in the traps inadvertently and not treating any animals that were caught cruelly – including iguanas – he would remove and dispose of properly-trapped iguanas in privately-owned traps. 

In other business, Malo told the board he had reviewed property owner responses to their request for hunting permission on private property, and of the approximately 1,600 packets mailed out about 475 signed permissions were returned. While that number sounds low, it is actually an increase over the 350 signed permissions from the previous year.  

In order to trap and shoot iguanas on private property, Cera must have signed permission from every property owner every time his contract is renewed. If he does not receive the signed permission form, he cannot enter the property to hunt and trap iguanas. Board Chairman Brian Corcoran said it might be a good idea if local Realtors were furnished with these packets to give to new property owners at the time of real estate closings. Malo agreed that it was a good idea and said he would have packets prepared. Corcoran said he would take care of getting them to local real estate agents.

The next committee meeting is scheduled for November of this year, with a specific date to be determined.

Board members include Chairman Brian Corcoran, Skip Branin, John Gravanda, Robert Vanyo and Secretary Mark Masselink.