for National Geographic News
Boca Grande, Florida, bills itself as the Tarpon Fishing Capital of the World. But the tiny island town in the Gulf of Mexico is fast becoming known for something not touted in tour guides.
Up to 12,000 non-native black spinytail iguanasmany 2 to 3 feet (60 to 90 centimeters) longhave infiltrated the resort community. (See a map of southeastern Florida.)
The reptiles ruin landscaping, spark power outages, and weaken protective sand dunes with their burrows.
Some residents have even found the creatures floating in toilets.
"For years the iguanas have had the run of the island," islander Beverly Furtado said.
"Everybody thought they were cute in the beginning and didn't mind them being around."
But attitudes have now changed.
Lee County commissioners recently approved a special tax on Boca Grande residents to cover the cost of removing the invasive species.
"It's a major problem," said commissioner Bob Janes, who pushed for the levy.
"We're trying to nip it in the bud."
Iguana Baby Boom
Last week a five-person Boca Grande county advisory board met for the first time to draw up a plan to eradicate the reptiles.
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