Thu, Sep 19, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Pingtung changes out iguanas for beans

By Lo Hsin-chen and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Iguanas caught by members of the public crowd a cage in Pingtung County in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of the Pingtung County Department of Agriculture

The Pingtung County Government’s policy of trading eco-friendly red beans for green iguanas has been a success, with the county government receiving 1,317 iguanas — 747 adults and 570 juveniles — captured by county residents.

Green iguanas are an invasive species that could create an imbalance in the local ecosystem, Pingtung County Department of Agriculture Director-General Huang Kuo-jung (黃國榮) said.

The uncontrolled spread of the iguanas has caused agricultural losses, damaged drainage systems, and could endanger dikes and embankments, which would threaten property and lives, Huang said.

Females can lay 20 to 70 eggs per year and their young grow fast, Huang said, adding that the most effective way to counter invasive species is to solicit public help.

Over the past two months, the department has offered residents quality agricultural goods in exchange for the iguanas, Huang said.

Until this month, the department has been giving out “eagle” red beans, but is now to award organic black beans, Huang said.

An “eagle” red bean is the eco-friendly version of the crop, so named after farmers in 2012 switched to non-toxic agricultural techniques following the mass poisoning of birds due to pesticides.

While the iguanas are not aggressive, the department cautioned against catching them by hand due to their strength and large size, as adults can grow up to 20cm long.

Residents should take precautions against bites and tail lashing, and should capture them with cardboard boxes or buckets, the department said.

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