Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Carmel on the Case: Croc Controversy
Danny Max Cohen
Despite a request from the Florida Keys for help with an expanding population of crocodiles, the state says relocating the reptiles won't work. Nobody's been hurt but one official worries that it's only a matter of time. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
WSVN -- Crocodiles are cruising neighborhood canals, lurking in the mangroves and making some residents very uncomfortable in the Florida Keys.
Among them, the mayor of Islamorada Michael Reckwerdt wants the state to move large crocs out of populated areas.
Michael Reckwerdt: "It worries me -- especially with the children - children and pets."
This croc for example has made its home near homes another has put down roots near a marina.
Michael Reckwerdt: "They'll come right up to people on the dock."
Once considered at a risk for extinction, the crocodile population has grown to the point they are no longer on the endangered species list. However, they are still protected and cannot be harmed.
They've been showing up throughout South Florida. There was a croc in a pond at Viscaya. An eight footer was found in a Dania pond, another was blamed for killing a Jack Russel in Coral Gables, and another dog was killed in Key Largo where this croc showed up at a marina.
Bill Fountain: "We have crocodiles who are swimming in canals and people are feeding them."
Bill Fountain lives on a Keys canal and is concerned that children could be next.
Bill Fountain: "I would describe them being more aggressive now because you're now finding them in people's swimming pools and backyards. Obviously they're coming trying to find food."
Michael Reckwerdt: "There's a relocation program for the alligators, I'm hoping there can be a relocation program for the crocodiles."
But the state says relocation doesn't work when it comes to crocs.
Lindsey Hord: "Occasionally, we do capture them and translocate them. Unfortunately that is not a very effective strategy because they invariable come back to where they were captured."
This tagged croc is a perfect example. Hit by a car and rehabilitated five years ago she is still in same area today.
Florida's Fish and Wildlife Commission says it prefers to educate people on living around them.
Lindsey Hord: "These crocodiles are here to stay and we've got to do everything we can to attempt to coexist with them."
The state recommends no swimming in canals where they've been seen, and that pets be kept 10 feet away from the water.
That's a big lifestyle change for many in South Florida but not everybody is concerned.
Jack Snyder: "We've had a big female for over ten years."
Jack snyder says he's never had a problem with the one that often shows up on his dock, and there are pictures online of a croc that swims with a young manatee in key largo.
Lindsey Hord: "The American crocodile has never bitten anybody in Florida."
But islamorada's mayor worries about when and where that first attack might happen.
Michael Reckwerdt: "How far do we want to go with an animal that's 5-6-8-10-12 feet long that three feet of it are teeth."
If you have a problems with a crocodile or alligator the state has a hotline.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
FWC Hotline for Nuisance Alligators and Crocodiles