Florida wildlife officials told to kill rare crocodile species
MIAMI, Fla. (WSVN) -- Florida wildlife officials have turned crocodile hunters. They said a dangerous reptile may be on the loose in South Florida, and they're being told to shoot on sight.
"Nile Crocodiles really don't occur in Florida except for this one," said Wildlife Biologist, Joe Wasilewski. "I picked it up at the fruit and spice park, which was in fresh water."
The animal can jump higher, run faster, and grow larger than its American cousin, as much as 20-feet long.
Now there's concern because someone spotted a small Nile Crocodile in a Miami-area canal. "It's been in this area for a couple of months," said Wasilewski, "and it's very likely that the animal is still within a mile or two of this area. For whatever reason, it's got its food source. It's got its shelter, and it's happy here."
And now there is a shoot to kill order from Florida Fish and Wildlife.
Officials worry about the proliferation of another non-native species affecting our ecosystem, like we have seen with the Burmese Python among other exotics. "The main message of something like this exotic Nile Crocodile loose in South Florida is, well, number one, it's against the law to release non-indigenous species," said Wasilewski, "but potentially dangerous animals, it's just not a good idea."
Wildlife experts said it is not dangerous yet. It could end up being a case of survival of the fittest. A fully grown predator like these American Alligators could nab the Nile Croc before any human does. "He'd be eaten," said Zoologist, Dan Costell, "because alligators eat prey that small."
This particular reptile grows about a foot a year and will only mate with another Nile Croc once it is at least 10 years old. So it would take 10 years or more to become more of a danger to the public. "Because this animal has been searched for so many times," said an expert, "it has become very wary of humans. This one, probably will be, because it's a juvenile, when they get older, no. When they get large, 13-16 feet, then they eat large prey."
If a Nile Crocodile is found alive by Florida wildlife officials, it will be euthanized.
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