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FWC Investigating Iguana Abuse Caught On Instagram

A green iguana lies in the grass
Brynn Anderson

Last month the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission effectively declared "open season" on iguanas by allowing them to be killed on private property. Since then, the agency has had to backtrack a bit after reports of the animals being killed and mutilated. Now, FWC officials are investigating a disturbing video posted to Instagram of one iguana being killed in a way the agency head calls, "despicable."

On July 25th the agency clarified it's directive on iguanas, noting “unfortunately, the message has been conveyed that we are asking the public to just go out there and shoot them up. This is not what we are about; this is not the ‘wild west'." FWC Commissioner Rodney Barreto said in a press release.

"If you are not capable of safely removing iguanas from your property, please seek assistance from professionals who do this for a living.” 

The video shows a group of people running over and hitting an iguana with a grocery cart. At one point, the animal loses its tail, and people can be seen jumping on it, while bystanders appear to be encouraging the behavior. The video appeared on Instagram and seems to originate in South Florida.

It was captured by an animal activist who blasts the treatment of the animal in the video and the people doing it. 

The agency says it became aware of the post August 1st. In a statement, FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton says the actions on display are despicable.

“We do not tolerate animal cruelty,” Sutton said in a statement. “We take this very seriously and our Division of Law Enforcement is investigating.”

The agency is asking anyone with information about the video to contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 or Individuals can remain anonymous.

Iguanas are considered an invasive species and can damage roads, buildings and seawalls, and while the agency says they can be killed on private property, it's warning that abuse is still illegal and that the animals must be killed humanely.

Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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