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'This is not the wild west': Florida officials clarify stance on green iguanas, urging safety over hunting

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 7/26/2019 Jordan Culver
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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is taking a slightly softer stance on the Sunshine State's invasive green iguana problem. 

The FWC, which encouraged residents "to kill green iguanas on their own property whenever possible" in a directive released at the start of the month, provided some additional information Thursday. 

“Unfortunately, the message has been conveyed that we are asking the public to just go out there and shoot them up," FWC Commissioner Rodney Barreto said in a statement. 

"This is not what we are about; this is not the ‘wild west.’ If you are not capable of safely removing iguanas from your property, please seek assistance from professionals who do this for a living."

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Nightmare of the iguana: Florida tells homeowners to kill green iguanas 'whenever possible'

The new statement provides information for professional trappers who can remove green iguanas from private property. 

"Green iguanas are an invasive species in Florida and are not native to our state," the FWC said in Thursday's statement. "They can cause considerable damage to infrastructure, including seawalls and sidewalks. Iguanas, like all nonnative, invasive species, are not protected in Florida except by anti-cruelty law.

"While they cannot be relocated, they can be removed from private property with landowner permission."

According to the FWC, green iguanas can grow to more than five feet in length and weigh up to 17 pounds. They're not always green, either. They can be brown or nearly black in color. They "cause damage to residential and commercial landscape vegetation and are often considered a nuisance by property owners." 

Green iguanas dig burrows that "erode and collapse sidewalks, foundations, seawalls, berms and canal banks," according to the commission. Plus they can threaten native and endangered species of tree snails. 

FWC's original declaration that green iguanas could be killed year-round without a permit has caused some issues. The Washington Post reported a man was shot in the leg by a BB gun by a trapper who was hunting iguanas in Boca Raton. 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'This is not the wild west': Florida officials clarify stance on green iguanas, urging safety over hunting

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