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Iguana-infested runways to be thing of the past

February 21, 2012, 6:01 pmYahoo! New Zealand

A country that forks out $95,000 a year killing iguanas at its main international airport has found a way to get a return from the lizards.

Iguana-infested runways to be thing of the past
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A country that forks out $95,000 a year killing iguanas at its main international airport has found a way to get a return from the lizards.

Puerto Rico has about 4 million iguanas – which is not far off the human population at the Caribbean archipelago.

At times the runway at Luis Munoz Marin international airport in San Juan has been so crowded with the lizards that planes have been forced to abort their landings, Natural Resources Department secretary Daniel Galan Kercado told the Associated Press.

The airport spends more than US$80,000 ($95,000) a year eradicating the iguanas.

They can grow up to 1.8metres long and live for 20 years. They're considered endangered in most of south America, but they’re abundant in Puerto Rico where there are few predators.

They have also been blamed for destroying building foundations by burrowing under them and causing power cuts by creating nests near electric plants.

Galan says it is a "very big problem" that needs addressing.

"It has impacted structures, the economy, crops and the ecosystem."

The answer? Kill as many as possible, take them to a meat processing plant for slaughter and export their lucrative meat to the US.

Demand for the meat is said to be high among the country's Latino and Asian immigrants and it could be sold for $6 a pound.

Plans are expected to be finalised by May.


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