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HDOA Captures Foreign Reptile on O‘ahu

August 22, 2019, 5:25 PM HST
* Updated August 22, 4:58 PM
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The Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture has located and captured an invasive lizard.

A three-foot-long iguana was captured Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, by HDOA inspectors in Waipio-Gentry on Board of Water Supply (BWS) property adjacent to Kanoelani Elementary School on O‘ahu, according to a state press release.

The school contacted HDOA on Tuesday afternoon and reported a sighting of an iguana. Inspectors went out Wednesday and canvased the area but did not find the reptile. Thursday, inspectors obtained permission from BWS to gain access to its property and the iguana was found in a tree.

When fully grown, iguanas may reach up to six feet in length from head to tip of tail. The tail is quite powerful, acting as a dangerous weapon in fending off enemies. Iguanas are native to central Mexico through South America and are typically vegetarians, but are known to disturb bird nestlings and feed on eggs.

Although they are known to be established in some areas on O‘ahu, it is illegal to import, possess or transport iguanas in Hawai‘i. Persons possessing illegal animals are subject to stiff penalties, including fines of up to $200,000 and as many as three years in prison.

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Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at (808) 643-7378. Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the state’s amnesty program, which provides immunity from prosecution. Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA Office, municipal zoo or Humane Society—no questions asked and no fines assessed.

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