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Got iguanas in your backyard? Here's what you need to know

What you need to know about South Florida's iguanas
What you need to know about South Florida's iguanas 03:00

MIAMI GARDENS - As efforts are being stepped up in South Florida to remove invasive iguanas that disrupt the state's wildlife, CBS News Miami followed a veteran trapper on Tuesday as he removed some of the animals from a canal in Miami Gardens.

CBS News Miami's Peter D'Oench spoke with Michael Ronquillo of Humane Iguana Control as he walked along the banks of the canal on N.W. 42nd Ave. at 173rd St. with his long catch pole with a wire attached to the end of it as he snared two invasive green iguanas and spoke about the problem.

Ronquillo said he was concerned about the growth and spread of the green iguana and Mexican and spiny tail iguanas that had originally been brought to South Florida from central and South America.

Green iguanas are not protected and can be humanely killed with a landowner's permission. The iguanas captured by Ronquillo were going to be euthanized.

Ronquillo held up one of the animals and said, "This is a green iguana, one that sometimes gets in homes. I suggest you don't approach them as they have very sharp teeth. You can see how sharp their teeth are and they used them to bite into leaves and they do carry salmonella, especially in their feces. So if you touch them wash your hands to avoid illnesses."

Iguanas have been seen eating gardens, getting into pools, even finding their way into toilets. They have a reputation for passing salmonella to pets and they burrow near lakes and canals causing erosion.

Ronquillo said, "It's important to capture them to keep them from reproducing because the more they reproduce the more they can negatively impact our ecosystem and native species. That's why I am glad I am doing this so I can help homeowners and homeowners associations and businesses and protect the ecosystem."

Experts say the Iguana population is growing out of control and that disrupts the lives of the state's wildlife, including gopher tortoises, sea turtles and burrowing owls.

Ronquillo said, "What iguanas do is eat a lot of native plants that native animals eat and as far as the burrowing owls, they go into their holes and destroy and eat their eggs so they can lay their own eggs. The iguanas like to poop around pools and a lot of people complain their dogs have gotten sick and they have very expensive vet bills."

Ronquillo expects to be busy as efforts are being stepped up to round up invasive iguanas. He also said they lay their eggs in February, March and April.

Lori Kettler, the general counsel for regulatory affairs for PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said PETA had been working closely with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to ensure that the iguanas were euthanized in a humane way and said FWC agreed to put instructions on their website on how to humanely kill the animals.

She said, "Our concerns are that this must be done as humanely as possible and that people are not using baseball bats and things like that."

She also said, "Florida has this problem because of the pet industry."

She said, "Obviously the iguanas wouldn't be there if the pet industry weren't importing them into the state and they were breeding for decades and they escaped and people let them go. It is the same thing with the pythons in Florida."

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