Iguana rescued after being shot with crossbow
Green iguanas are despised for consuming gardens, leaving droppings on pool decks and bringing an intimidating, prehistoric presence to South Florida neighborhoods. But they probably don’t deserve to be shot with crossbows.
A six-foot iguana was rescued Wednesday morning in Plantation after being found with five darts sticking out of its body.
Daniel Drake, a state-licensed wildlife rescuer who provides his services for free, received a report of an iguana in distress, with needles or darts sticking out its body.
“We go out to this iguana thinking we could probably pull the needles or darts out of it,” he said. “It’s not needles or darts. It’s got five crossbow arrows in it. Somebody shot it up with a crossbow.”
But iguanas can move fast, an attribute familiar to anyone who has seen one sprint to the water at the approach of a human being.
“We spent all of yesterday trying to catch this thing,” said Drake, of North Lauderdale. “He could run, swim, eat like he’s 100 percent fine, and he just had arrows sticking everywhere out of him. I went out this morning and he’s up in a tree. I climbed up the tree and caught him and dragged him back down.”
He drove the iguana to the South Florida Wildlife Center, a Fort Lauderdale affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States, which treats injured wild animals. Although in Florida it’s legal to kill iguanas, which are a non-native species, state law requires that it be done humanely.
The iguana was given pain medication and underwent surgery Wednesday afternoon at the wildlife center, where the iguana’s large size led the staff to nickname him “Godzilla.”
The surgery went well, but he will be watched over the next few days to make sure there’s no infection or internal bleeding. “We’ll do everything we can for him,” said Dr. Amanda Grant, a veterinarian at the center.
“I don’t know why anyone would do such a thing,” she said. “He was probably just hanging out, sunning himself.”
Iguanas arrived in South Florida neighborhoods via the exotic pet trade, as released or escaped pets found congenial habitat far from the native range in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Although they are a non-native species, iguanas are protected by anti-cruelty laws, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They “can be humanely captured and euthanized on private property at any time with landowner permission and using legal and humane methods,” said Carli Segelson, spokeswoman for the wildlife commission.
More than 200 injured iguanas were brought to the South Florida Wildlife Center last year, said Deborah Millman, the center’s director of outreach. The most common causes are vehicle strikes, an encounter with a dog and getting stuck in a fence, she said.
Drake says he knows many people can’t stand iguanas but said that’s not an excuse for inflicting five crossbow shots on one of them.
“I think it’s cruel,” he said. “I love all animals … I felt bad this guy was running around with arrows in him.”