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How to Best Control Iguanas within Community Associations. Are residents permitted to kill the invasive, non-native species?

If you live in Florida, you undoubtedly share a home with the green iguana, a non-native species that has proliferated in the tropical climate of the Sunshine State. While some residents are happy to share their territory with the reptiles, which can grow to up six feet in length and weigh more than 20 pounds, others see the lizards as a scourge on the environment and yet another example of the detrimental effects of invasive species on Florida’s delicate ecosystem.



In July 2019, the Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) urged locals to kill the reptiles “whenever possible.” Then quickly back peddled by issuing the following statement: “Unfortunately, the message has been conveyed that we are asking the public to just go out there and shoot them up,” said FWC Commissioner Rodney Barreto. “This is not what we are about; this is not the ‘wild west.’”



What options does a Condominium Association or HOA have?



Homeowners and property managers are rightfully fed up with iguanas. They can uproot and eat expensive landscaping, damage roofs, pools, seawalls and even roads. If you are looking to take pest control into your own hands, attorney Alessandra Stivelman, a partner at Eisinger Law, recommends the following guidelines:



• According to state law and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, killing of iguanas is legal and does not require a permit if done on one’s private property. Depending on an Association’s rules and regulations, residents might be legally entitled to kill iguanas on their private property, but it becomes much more complex in the common areas such as shared courtyards, pool areas and parking lots.



• The law stipulates that an iguana be killed in a humane manner and the carcass is properly disposed. Legal methods of iguana removal include shooting them with a pellet gun, stabbing them in the brain or even decapitating them as long as they don’t suffer. Freezing, drowning and poisoning iguanas is illegal. Cruelty to an iguana is a misdemeanor of the first degree, which can be punished with a year in prison and/or a fine of $5,000.



• Due to the fact that one may not always succeed with instantaneously killing an iguana on the first attempt, it could be considered cruelty and in violation of the law. In addition, it is a huge liability for a community association if residents are firing guns or any sort or swinging shovels in an attempt to kill iguanas.



As such, property managers and anyone living in a community association must abide by all applicable local and state laws. The Board of Directors should consider adopting reasonable rules and regulations regarding the firing of pellet guns and use of other weapons within the community. In addition, rules should be considered that prohibit residents from killing iguanas within the community altogether and, instated, the association should consider hiring a licensed professional for such purposes. This often requires dedicating a portion of the community’s maintenance budget to iguana pest control, but from a legal standpoint, it may be a worthwhile investment to avoid potential hazards and ensure the safety of humans and reptiles alike.



Alessandra Stivelman, partner at Eisinger Law is a Board Certified Specialist in Condominium and Planned Development Law and AV rated. She focuses her practice on community association and real estate law and can be reached at (954) 894-8000 x 304 or astivelman@eisingerlaw.com. Eisinger Law, is a full service Florida law firm focusing on community association law, real estate law, developer representation, commercial litigation and insurance law. Visit eisingerlaw.com.