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February 5, 2001

Department of Agriculture Investigates Three Separate Incidents of Illegal Lizards

Honolulu - Three separate incidents involving illegal lizards were reported over the weekend and are being investigated by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

In the first case, a Nile Monitor Lizard was voluntarily turned in over the weekend to the Honolulu Zoo under the amnesty program. The monitor lizard measures more than three feet and is currently being housed at the zoo. Nile monitor lizards are restricted from entering Hawaii.

Also on Oahu, an iguana was captured by a family in Waimanalo and reported to agricultural officials. The lizard measures about four-feet long and was running loose in a field when the family's dogs cornered the lizard. Agricultural Inspectors picked up the iguana this morning and it is being kept at the Plant Quarantine Station.

The third incident was reported on Kauai yesterday. The three-foot long iguana was apparently found loose and turned in to officials. The lizard is being transported to the Plant Quarantine Facility on Oahu.

Although iguanas are believed to established in Waimanalo on Oahu, it is illegal to possess or transport iguanas in Hawaii. Iguanas are not believed to be established in the wild on Kauai. Iguanas, when full grown, can reach up to six feet in length from head to toe. Its tail can be quite powerful, acting as a dangerous weapon in fending off enemies. Native to central Mexico through South America, iguanas are typically vegetarians, but are known to disturb bird nestlings and feed on eggs.

Persons possessing illegal animals are subject to stiff penalties, including fines of up to $200,000 and up to three years in jail. Individuals with illegal pets are encouraged to turn them in under the department's Amnesty Program. Anyone with information or knowledge of illegal animals in Hawaii is asked to call the department's PEST HOTLINE at 586-PEST(7378).