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Florida Has An Iguana Problem. So Why Are They Still For Sale?

A green iguana lies in the grass
Brynn Anderson

Florida has an iguana problem. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has declared an open season on the lizards, which it says are an invasive, non-native species. But the animals are still for sale in stores throughout the state. So, why not stop selling them? 

Wildlife officials last week declared war on green iguanas that are taking over the state.

“FWC encourages homeowners to humanely kill green iguanas on their own property whenever possible,” the agency wrote in a statement.

They can also be killed year-round on 22 public lands in South Florida, no permit necessary.

Iguanas are originally from Central and South America. They were first reported in Florida in the 1960s.

In recent years, though, their population has grown exponentially, creating problems for residents and businesses alike.

They eat plants, including commercial crops, and dig tunnels that can collapse sidewalks and even the foundations of houses.

But if they’re causing such a ruckus, why are they still for sale in pet shops throughout Florida?

According to the FWC, it’s because they’re already so heavily populated, that stopping the sale of the lizards won’t make much of a difference. Instead, the commission says it’s focusing its efforts on “mitigating negative impacts.” 

Shawn Mulcahy is a reporter and All Things Considered host for WFSU. He graduated from Florida State University in 2019 with majors in public relations and political science. He was previously an intern at WFSU, and worked as an Account Coordinator at RB Oppenheim Associates.