Miami City Officials Discussing ‘Dead or Alive’ Bounty on Iguanas

by Lauren Boisvert

Miami Beach is going the way of the Everglades, in that they’ll pay people to hunt an invasive species. Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez said at a commission meeting on Wednesday, “People are going to go out and hunt [the iguanas] for money,” according to the New York Post. She continued, “If we don’t do something and take action seriously, every single day these iguanas are multiplying.”

The iguanas are a massive problem for Miami and South Florida. They leave droppings everywhere and are allegedly digging up seawalls and causing damage to structures, according to the commissioner. Miami Beach has raised its iguana removal budget from $50,000 to $200,000, according to Mayor Dan Gelber.

Gonzalez went on to propose the bounty plan, saying, “I don’t know – dead or alive. But if we pay per iguana we’re going to get more iguanas.” Gelber thinks the plan could work but wants to make sure it’s legal and everything is above board. Gonzalez thinks allowing residents to hunt their own iguanas would be better than “hiring some guy with a raccoon cap, five guys with raccoon caps, that are gonna go around to the public properties […]”

There is no information on whether or not just any resident can go out and kill an iguana. But, most likely there will be laws and regulations put in place to make sure the hunt is legal. Hunting licenses will most likely be required. The bounty plan will be examined further when an ad-hoc committee is formed to look into the best ways to manage the iguana problem.

While Miami Deals With Iguanas, the Everglades Hunts Pythons

This entire scenario sounds similar to what goes on in the Everglades every year. Burmese pythons are an incredibly invasive species in South Florida, and there are annual snake hunts to help curb the population, which quickly gets out of control.

The Florida Python Challenge is an annual hunt for Burmese pythons in the Everglades, with monetary rewards going to the hunters. People from all over the country come to hunt the snakes, which are considered Florida’s most invasive species. The 2022 hunt kicked off in early August, and since 2017, 100,000 pythons have been removed from the Everglades.

The Florida Python Challenge is just one program that helps protect the delicate Everglades. The South Florida Water Management District also conducts the Python Elimination Program, which essentially does the same thing as the Challenge. Only, in the program, python removal agents are paid hourly. It’s more of a job than a contest.

All in all, there are some pretty wild invasive species in Florida that are wreaking havoc. We’ll have to wait and see if Miami Beach is going to start its own annual Iguana Hunt or not.