Tegu lizard is rapidly spreading all around Florida and even Treasure Coast. So many natural areas, native wildlife, and even Everglade National Park's restoration efforts may face critical implication due to the rise in population.
Spread of Tegu Population in Florida
Growth and Spread of the Argentine Black and White Tegu Population in Florida was co-authored by UF scientists at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) together with partner agencies, revealing the breadth and depth of the tegu issue.
The information sheet goes into great depth about the invasion of the species, the growth of the tegu population, the implications for animals and natural places at risk, the aims and actions of many agencies to lessen the danger, and the consequences of species expansion.
Tegu numbers may be managed with persistent trapping efforts and resources, says Melissa Miller, invasive species research coordinator for The Croc Docs at UF's Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center (REC).
Tegus have already moved outside of South Florida, and this trend is likely to continue unless authorities working together take steps to manage, investigate, and monitor these pests.
With the establishment of breeding populations in Hillsborough, Charlotte, Miami-Dade, and St. Lucie counties, Argentine black and white tegu populations have grown in Florida.
Report of Tegu Sightings in Georgia Counties
According to the CDC, tegus have been found in 31 other counties in Florida, which may represent strays or abandoned pets that haven't yet established reproductive populations. At least four counties in Georgia reported sightings.
There has been an increase in both the quantity of tegus eliminated and the amount of effort put on catching them. Private trappers, some of whom claimed to have removed over 400 tegus, are not included in these totals.
This problem is being tackled with the support of federal and state partners, as well as public and private property managers.
There are concerns that tegus are spreading because they eat indigenous animals, particularly small mammals and reptiles, according to SFWMD land resources bureau head Rory Feeney. Reducing tegu populations and curbing their spread is an essential part of Everglades restoration.
How Can This Invasive Species be Controlled?
Trapping has been the primary method used by the National Park Service (NPS) and other partners to confine invasive tegu lizards outside of Everglades National Park for many years.
The number of traps set has increased by two or three times in the last several decades as a result of major advancements in trapping. Most traps have been improved to capture tegus more effectively.
Invasive plants and reptiles will not be welcomed in the efforts to restore the Everglades. Tegu lizards and other exotic plants and animals continue to be a concern to Everglades National Park, which the NPS and its partners work towards reducing.
By working together to reduce tegu impacts on native wildlife and natural areas across landscapes, the FWC continues to take actions that inhibit the establishment of new tegu populations through regulation, systematic removal efforts within established populations, and rapid response to confirmed sightings outside established ranges.
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