Earlier this month, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) issued a statement urging people to “kill green iguanas on their own property whenever possible."
"Green iguanas (Iguana iguana) are an invasive species in Florida and are not native to our state," they explained in a now-updated website post. "They can cause considerable damage to infrastructure, including seawalls and sidewalks. This species is not protected in Florida except by anti-cruelty law."
The post went on to say that “the FWC encourages homeowners to humanely kill green iguanas on their own property whenever possible. Iguanas can also be killed year-round and without a permit on 22 public lands in south Florida," Huffington Post reports.
Unfortunately, some people appear to have embraced the directive to kill the invasive iguanas a little too enthusiastically. Earlier this month, E-Lyn Bryan, a homeowner in Florida, was shot at his property after an iguana hunter he hired mistook his pool maintenance worker for a lizard, the Independent reports.
“I came out to see what they were doing and I heard him scream at the top of his lungs and he had blood coming out of his leg and he was shot by the hunter,” Bryan told WPTV.
“We have iguanas everywhere. If neighbors are going to be like the Wild West and shoot at everything someone is going to get killed.”
The pool boy – unnamed in reports – was thankfully not injured in any major way and recovered just fine. Following the incident, the FWC felt the need to clarify that they did not mean people should just go outside and start shooting at iguanas willy nilly.
“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."
The invasive species is a huge problem for the state, causing damage to infrastructure, threatening endangered species, and spreading Salmonella. Conservationists have recently begun trying to find new ways to reduce the population of these creatures humanely, including smashing the lizards' heads against solid objects such as their trucks.
“Most of what we’re doing is blunt force trauma,” wildlife biologist Jenny Ketterlin told the Sun-Sentinel. “Hitting their head very hard against a solid object.”
She told the publication that destroying their brains quickly was the kindest way to euthanize the animals, adding that decapitating them without anesthetic would not be considered humane.