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Pine Island residents concerned about predators

By Staff | Jan 6, 2016

According to Bayview Acres resident John “Giddyup” Bunch, there have been several small mammals killed recently in and around the community on the southern end of Pine Island.

“I’m not sure whether it is a coyote or even possibly a lizard,” Bunch said. “Nile monitor lizards have been reported in Lee County and on Pine Island.”

Bunch and his wife “adopted” a neighborhood cat they named Midnight. Caring for Midnight and feeding him became a daily ritual. Recently, while away, the Bunches learned that Midnight had been killed by an unknown predator.

Graham Reedy was checking on a neighbor’s property when he spotted “something.”

“I heard a noise and saw a streak,” Reedy said. “I only caught the back end, but I can say it was some kind of lizard and it was big about 3 or 4 feet long.”

Nile monitor lizards are members of the monitor lizard family and found throughout much of Africa. Brought to Florida originally as pets, many were freed or escaped from their owners and they have established breeding populations since 1990. The vast majority of the established breeding population of the species is in Lee County, particularly in Cape Coral and surrounding regions, including the islands of Sanibel, Captiva and Pine Island.

Nile monitor lizards have have muscular bodies, strong legs and powerful jaws. Their teeth are sharp and pointed in juvenile animals. They also possess sharp claws used for climbing, digging, defense or tearing at their prey.

The “Little Book of Monitor Lizards” published in 1995 states: “There are few of these lizards less suited to life in captivity than the Nile monitor. … within a couple of years, their purchase will have turned into an enormous, ferocious carnivore, quite capable of breaking the family cat’s neck with a single snap and swallowing it whole.”

Bunch has established a fund to raise money for a trapper.

“We have to capture whatever is out there,” Bunch said. “Whether it is a coyote or a lizard, we have to rid our neighborhood of this. Contributions to the fund are not tax deductible. 100 percent of funds raised will be earmarked for services rendered by a professional animal trapper. Contribution to the fund can be made at SunTrust Bank on Pine Island via the branch manager only.”

For additional information, email Bunch at jbunchie@aol.com or phone 239-822-8888