Animal rescues are not out of the ordinary for Manatee County Deputy Steven Stewart.
But, Saturday's was a first.
He came face-to-face with an animal he has never seen on Anna Maria Island.
"I thought I was responding to a dog on the beach. That is usually what I get and that's what I thought it was," he said.
Deputy Stewart got to the call as fast as he could. When he got out of his squad car a crowd of people were standing around a tree and he noticed something green that didn't belong in the tree.
"She blended in with the leaves. It was very hard to see her," he said.
She was an Iguana and nearly two feet long.
"People were asking if I was going to shoot the Iguana or taser the Iguana and I'm like, 'no we can get this without doing that," he said.
A boy in the crowd climbed the tree, shook the branches and Deputy Stewart caught the Iguana.
"I thought he was going to bite me I thought the spines were going to stick in my hands," he said.
That was the easy part. Then they had to find a place to put the iguana.
"I didn't take him home because I have a Jack Russell who wouldn't get along with him," he said.
He called everyone he could think of and then he called Justin Matthews, of Matthews Wildlife Rescue.
"It is just bad all the way around. There is a reason they're not native here," Matthews said.
Matthews believes this was somebody's pet that either ran away or was abandoned. He says it is a serious problem facing Florida.
"Anytime you introduce new reptile or new animal to our ecosystem you can also introduce new diseases also they feed on endangered plant life," said Matthews.
Deputy Stewart can tell you. You never know what you will find in Florida.
"It could be snakes, turtles or Iguanas," he said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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