The Westin’s last iguana roundup

The manager of the St. John Westin has halted the resort's policy of gathering iguanas in a bag and taking them somewhere else on the island.

The Westin has an iguana overpopulation problem, made worse in recent years by a feed-the-iguana program for guests.  And the iguana has no natural predator on the island who might, as they say, ‘thin the herd.’

“The iguanas get overly aggressive and create an issue for our guests,” Ryan told the Source. So, the resort has been rounding up iguanas and moving them elsewhere, like to Fish Bay.

The St. John Source reported that Mike Ryan suspended the roundups after a Chatham University researcher told him it’s illegal to do that.

But the V.I. Indigenous and Endangered Species Act protects the large lizards from being caught and moved.

Ryan plans to talk with the VI’s Fish and Wildlife Division to develop a new strategy to manage the iguana population.

One biologist suggested the Westin get a dog to walk around the resort to discourage the iguanas’ roaming.

20 thoughts on “The Westin’s last iguana roundup”

  1. That was one of the biggest thrills my daughter had was feeding the iguanas and we never seemed to have any problems with them. At one point I was sitting at a cabana by the pool and a lizard decided to pull himself up and sit beside me. No problem!

  2. Ever see an iguana eat a cherry? They love them! They also thoroughly enjoy red painted (and other colors) toenails. Their mouths are a swamp of infectious bacteria lined with rows of penetrating teeth. I’ve seen people bitten and subsequent series of antibiotic shots required. One guy sitting at a bar was bit in the achilles tendon. Painful, but the iguana didn’t live another 10 seconds. They may be “unique” for tourists, but they are pests that can cause real problems if not held in check and respected. And, frankly, who cares what a “Chatham University” person has to say?

  3. Some islands promote Iguanas as assets. Tiny Palm Island’s exclusive Palm Island Resort promotes their protection and is overun, but the high paying travelers staying there seem to love it. Most tourist from northern climes find them a special and exotic vacation experience. St. John’s lucky they’re protected. On islands like Roatan, they’re hunted almost to extinction. You can only find them on a small farm preserve and have to pay to visit.

  4. Iguanas are pests, they are not sanitary, they pee and poop all over the place – including in swimming pools, are agressive with tourists in resorts that have allowed them to take over and, IMHO, need to be drastically thinned. They are not a native species anyway so why are we even bothering to protet these overgrown rats?

  5. We had concluded for years that the Westin was doing something to the iguanas. We suspected they were keeping them in a pen and letting them out only for the feedings. This past June when we were on island, we actually had some left over fruit and scoured the resort looking for iguanas to feed. It took us significantly longer to find them but we did. My kids enjoyed feeding them before we left for the airport. They didn’t seem any more aggressive than usual. Wild animals are wild animals.
    Can you eat them on St. John? Or are they that protected?

  6. Train the Westin restaurant staff to politely and tactfully discourage guests from feeding them. I cannot imagine what kind of “biologist” suggested gettng a dog. Neither good for dogs nor iguanas.

  7. Having a villa on St.John we have a resident iguana. Our guests love him but I don’t. He has been systematically eating our foliage and then relieves himself on the deck of my pool. I would rather see less iguanas on St. John

  8. The over population of Iguana’s at the Westin became a problem and something had to be done. Since Iguana’s are not indigenous to St. John (they were brought in just as the Mongoose was) and they are definitely not an endangered specie; how does the VI Indigenous & Endangered Species Act come into play. And besides, I have been told that government in the process of trapping and removing the Mongoose. How can they justify that, and not the Iguanas?

  9. i think nick was joking, but he’s right. there are many places that eat them. and they are endangered there. so eat them! no joke. the lion fish are a problem and eating them is helping. so eat the freaking iguanas. they are a delicasy elsewhere. no problem. seriously, tell me why not. this has to be the only island where all this food is walking around and no one knows what to do with it. what a bunch of morons in st. john! eat ’em! no problem.

  10. I will not spend any time(or money on an Island) that doesn’t have Mongoose, I want to relax and not worry about being killed by a snake.I wish they’d import them into the US where we are being terrorized by snakes and reptiles particularly in any area away from the Coast in Florida.

  11. Icky Iguanas should be turned into food for something. They are a pest in Florida, also. Maybe the guests should see more pictures and articles about what they are really like.

  12. In Coconut Grove an upscale suburb of Miami, we have a big problem with these huge lizzards killing everything from birds to dogs. Western suburb residents have to watch out for Alligators, Crockodiles( encouraged by the stupid Fish and Wildlife Agency and Phythons( released by their dumb former owners) I won’t vacation again in Belize or Roatan because of all the snakes. While waiting for the ferry to Caye Caulker a beautiful little car free island, a resident of San Pedro, Ambergris Key, entertained us with tales of his daily snake hunting after school activities.

  13. The problem is government money( your tax money) paying salaries to people and agencies that need to be defunded. Letting these abstract science buleys police you is masochistic. They are ruining Florida for its residents and tourists, and you need to get rid of these career government pests! “Native flora and wildlife” is their party line. I suggest you start following them with video cameras to see how your money is being spent each hour. The plants brought to Florida and the Caribbean Islands turned the area into a desirable place to live and visit. Fairchild Gardens and the St. Vincent Botanical Garden are not full of native plants. You got a big problem and it’s more than iguanas!

  14. If your desire is not to see iguanas, lizards, or getgo’s while in the islands then go elsewhere. It comes with the territory and the climate. The iguanas at the Westin are not aggressive to those that leave them alone. I had iguanas outside my villa each and every day for years and not once have they been aggressive.
    The Westin had the iguanas bagged and literally would have 12 in a single bag as they were being relocated. This is quite inhumane regardless of what type of animal. I also cannot believe this was being done around the pool during the day in plain sight of children. Another Westin St John classy move.
    I agree with the above statement that if the resort would like to discourage the iguanas from being fed there should be signs. There are very few signs on the resort about it now.

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