Hillsborough County Tegu Removal

Wildlands Conservation worked to remove Argentine black and white tegus (Salvator merianae) through a project funded by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Argentine black and white tegus have been established in Hillsborough County since the mid-2000s. As part of this research, Wildlands determined the spatial extent of the tegu invasion and the cost of eradication. Because the costs associated with removal have such a high influence in determining optimal strategies for control, and funds are limited, determining the most cost-effective strategies for removal efforts is crucial to establish an effective management strategy for tegus in Hillsborough County.

Wildlands employed a combination of camera and live trapping and spatial capture-recapture analysis to determine tegu population densities, population-level habitat-density correlations, and removal efficiency in the core of the Hillsborough County population. We established a grid of baited camera stations across a diversity of habitats, including areas where tegus were known to occur. Data were then collected from camera stations for a period of two weeks to determine patterns of tegu activity centers and to generate a density surface map to explore potential habitat correlations. Baited live traps were then set at all stations with documented tegu presence and checked daily. While observed tegu densities were generally low in this region, this method proved effective, with nearly all tegus observed from camera traps being captured and removed from the wild.

As a result of having hundreds of camera stations in Hillsborough County, Wildlands captured many pictures of native Florida wildlife too. Below are some photos that our staff particularly enjoyed.