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Protected Areas managers warn against overhunting iguana and Hicatee turtle

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Posted: Saturday, March 12, 2022. 8:30 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations (APAMO) has warned that individuals who are engaging in commercial hunting of Iguana (iguana iguana) and Hicatee turtles (Dermatemys mawii), even posting videos of hunts on social media, are running afoul of regulations on the closed season for poaching these creatures.

While it is traditional to hunt iguanas during March and April and especially females carrying eggs, the season is currently closed as of February 1, reopening on June 30. APAMO says, “Iguanas are protected under the Belize Wildlife Protection Act and a license is needed to hunt and sell them.”

Meanwhile, the Hicatee turtle goes into closed season during the month of May. Individuals are prohibited from possessing more than three turtles at any one time; no fishing female turtles larger than 18 inches and smaller than 15 inches; no sale or possession of female turtles, or transporting more than five in a vehicle.

APAMO says iguanas are important seed dispersers for many native plants and Hicatee turtles play a critical role in the food web, both their protection is vital to the health of the ecosystem.

It concludes, “The over hunting and hunting of these species during the closed seasons will cause a drastic decline of wildlife populations. By not catching more than you are allowed and respecting closed seasons, we will help to ensure that these endangered species flourish and remain healthy for future generations. Let’s do our part and report illegal activities to the Forest Department (822-1525) and the Fisheries Department (224-4552).”

 

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