Green Iguanas Pose Potential Harm to Ecological Environment. Rearing Must Be Registered and Breeding Only Permitted with Authorization

    On August 15th, the Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan, R.O.C. set a review draft for the “non-endemic terrestrial wildlife species that are harmful to the ecological environment and the safety of human and animal husbandry”, and announced the green iguana (Iguana iguana) as a non-endemic terrestrial wildlife species that is harmful to the ecological environment. After the announcement, for the rearing of the green iguanas, please register with the government of the local municipalities and counties (cities), and breeding of the animal is not permitted without the authorization from the competent authority. This is to prevent the current situation of pet green iguanas being abandoned and reproducing without control, in order to reduce the potential harmful impact of the green iguanas on the local ecology. The draft will be in the review period for 60 days, feedback from all members of the public is welcome.
    The green iguana or American iguana (Iguana iguana) is an arboreal reptile native to Central and South America. It is a large lizard that can produce 20-70 eggs per clutch. The population can quickly expand in the wild in an environment without natural predators and with a suitable climate. Currently, invasive populations have been found in 15 countries, including Taiwan. The harm it poses, including the habit of digging, may damage the river embankment infrastructure and cause safety threats to agriculture, tourism, food, and biosafety, and lead to direct economic losses such as short-circuiting power networks and power outages, as well as road collapse or embankment erosion. It can also destroy vegetation and compete with the indigenous species, which will affect the local ecology.
    The Forestry Bureau pointed out that the main way in which green iguanas invade the environment is through “abandonment”. Due to its unique appearance that is similar to “Godzilla”, coupled with its calm disposition and as an easy-to-care-for pet, it is very popular on the pet market. But when making a purchase, most owners fail to take into consideration that the adult size can grow up to a length of two meters. As a result, the animals are abandoned in the wild after being kept for a while. Currently, there are a large number of population groups in Taichung City, Changhua County, Chiayi County (City), Tainan City, Kaohsiung City, and Pingtung County, and showing a rapidly spreading trend. In order to remove the invasive population in the wild, the Forestry Bureau and the government of the local municipalities and counties (cities) have commissioned the National Pingtung University of Science and Technology (NPUST), and related groups to carry out the capture. Since 2014, 7,417 animals have been removed. In addition to capturing the green iguanas dispersed in the wild, it is imperative that the harm caused by the green iguana be reduced by regulating the individual animals being reared, preventing abandonment, and artificial reproduction.
    The Forestry Bureau said that in order to prevent and manage the green iguanas from entering the ecological environment from the source, according to the provisions of Article 31 of the Wildlife Conservation Act, the green iguana has been declared as a “non-endemic terrestrial wildlife species that is harmful to the ecological environment and the safety of human and animal husbandry”. After the announcement, the rearing of the animal must be registered with the competent authority for record and breeding shall not be carried out without the authorization of the competent authority. By registering and follow-up checks on the numbers, it will effectively prevent the public from thoughtlessly abandoning and breeding the green iguanas. Currently, the green iguanas available for sale on the market can still be bought and sold after registration, but after the sale, the purchasing owners must also register the animal to facilitate tracking the whereabouts and reduce the total number of green iguanas. The Forestry Bureau will also continue to capture individual animals invading the wild, which should effectively control the green iguana population.
    The Forestry Bureau emphasized that after the official announcement, owners of the green iguana must register their pet with the government of the local municipalities and counties (cities) according to regulations. If the owner did not register within the time limit, or evade inspections after registration, a penalty of minimum NT$10,000 and maximum NT$50,000 can be imposed according to the Wildlife Conservation Act. If you have any related comments during the review period, please send it to the email address: wildlife@forest.gov.tw. After the Forestry Bureau consolidates all feedback and completes a full assessment, the final list will be processed through legislative procedures and announced.
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