TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Reported sightings of green iguanas are increasing as the hot summer months bear down on Florida.
It's an invasive species and a 2017 executive order allows residents to humanely kill green iguanas, with permission of the landowner on which one is found. A spokesperson from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) tells FOX 13 News the agency has consistently advised homeowners that iguanas are not protected and can be removed from private property.
Green iguanas are most often seen in areas of South Florida, however a few are reported in the Bay Area and Central Florida every year.
The number of reported sightings in some counties appears to be on-par with last year. In Sarasota County, three reports have been made so far this year. Last year, there were six reports in Sarasota County.
Last year, in Hillsborough County, six sightings were reported, but none so far this year.
Manatee County has had one report this year, with two overall in 2018.
In Pinellas County, three sightings have been reported this year and eight were reported last year.
Polk County had the highest number of reportings in the Bay Area in 2018 at nine. One has been reported in 2018.
In Central Florida, fewer sightings have been reported, with Brevard County only having one report in 2019 and two in 2018.
FWC says green iguanas were first reported in Florida in the 1960s. Since then, the population has spread, becoming a nuisance in many South Florida counties.
There have been reports of green iguana sightings as far north as Alachua County.
Green iguanas may be kept as pets in Florida, but should not be released into the wild, FWC says.
They can cause damage to residential and commercial landscape vegetation and are attracted to trees with foliage or flowers, most fruits (except citrus) and vegetables. Some green iguanas cause damage to infrastructure by digging burrows that erode and collapse sidewalks, foundations, seawalls, berms and canal banks, according to FWC.
On its website, FWC says green iguanas can transmit the infectious bacterium Salmonella to humans through contact with water or surfaces contaminated by their feces.
For more information on green iguanas, visit https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/nonnatives/reptiles/iguanas-and-relatives/green-iguana/.
To report a sighting of a green iguana, visit https://www.eddmaps.org/report/. First-time reporters will be asked to sign up and create a profile.