A Miami Beach city commissioner is proposing a new solution to combat an invasion of non-native iguanas overwhelming the popular tourist town: pay a bounty for the head of every reptile brought in dead or alive.

The commissioners agreed to look into the iguana problem and council member Kristen Rosen Gonzalez’s suggestion to offer payments to hunters, which she said would encourage locals to take an active role.

At a committee meeting last week, she questioned whether a recent quadrupling of the city’s budget for iguana removal to $200,000 paid to professional trapping companies offered value to taxpayers.

“I don’t know, dead or alive. But if we pay per iguana, we will have more iguanas,” she said. according to Miami’s Local 10 News.

“People will come out and hunt them for money. I think it’s a better use of our money.

Green iguanas, also known as American iguanas, are native from Brazil to Mexico and first appeared in the wild in South Florida in the 1960s after some that were kept as pets Exotic pets were released when they got too big.

Their numbers have steadily increased as the species, which thrives in Florida’s subtropical climate, has spread north across the state.

Cities like Miami Beach, which once saw little to no non-native reptile activity, have been overwhelmed by the proliferation of large spiny lizards that damage buildings by burrowing underneath, devastate plants and landscaping. landscaped and defecate at will.

Although primarily herbivorous, iguanas have also been known to eat snails and the eggs of small birds.

The city of Miami Beach tried to get the problem under control two years ago by hiring a private moving company to patrol parks and public spaces. Over 200 were removed, but one problem was that trappers were restricted to a smaller number of areas and the number of iguanas continued to grow.

In a high-profile incident, an iguana estimated to be 1.5 meters long was spotted stroll along Lincoln Roadone of the city’s main thoroughfares, when earlier this year in Hollywood, a city just 20 miles north, a woman was surprised to walk into her bathroom and find a reptile from similar size sitting in his toilet.

“[They] descend from the ventilation pipe in the roof. Even if your vent pipe is closed, it doesn’t mean your neighbors’ is,” trapper George Cera said at the time.

The Florida State Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) recognizes that iguanas are a growing problem, but have encountered their own problems. A pilot program declaring the iguana season open had to be tempered shortly after its launch in 2019 following cruelty reportsand another incident in which a Boca Raton pool attendant was shot by teenagers try to earn some extra money.

The FWC issued a statement stating that iguanas could not be humanely abducted or killed.

In another attempt to reduce numbers, the FWC decided in 2021 that iguanas would be among the 16 most destructive non-native species subject to a breeding and sale ban.

Other Florida invasive species headaches include python problems in the Everglades and an overabundance of lionfish in the Atlantic Ocean.

It remains to be seen whether Rosen Gonzalez’s proposal for iguana bounties will see the light of day. The Miami Beach commission is setting up an ad hoc committee to look into the matter but has not set a date to report back.