Iguanas are now officially designated “reptiles of concern” in Broward County. For all the effect it will have, the county commission might as well designate the Irish as “immigrants of concern.”
Green iguanas are running amuck. They’re breeding like bunnies. They’re taking over docks and bridge abutments and feasting on hibiscus shrubs and other expensive landscaping. Broward has done a better job of creating an environment amenable to iguanas than, say, creating an attractive beachfront for the high end tourists supposed to fill the new $800-a-night hotels along Fort Lauderdale shore.
It’s too late. The new rules likely to be adopted by the county commission would regulate the sale of pet iguanas, which county commissioners worry will be released into the wild once owners tire of the voracious lizards. But the descendents of former pet iguanas have spread so fast across South Florida that some scientists now consider their breeding ground a reliable measure of global warming. As the climate warms, the lizards extend their habitat further north along the Florida peninsula.
The commission would do better policing the sale of other exotic pets with the same potential to breed and adapt to a subtropical climate. All manner of snakes, lizards and turtles could be kept out of the wild, if the county or the state cracks down now. Before it’s too late.
But anyone with a boat dock along the Intracoastal Waterway can tell you that, when it comes to iguanas, the county commission is trying to close the barn door long after the lizards moved in.