A rare American crocodile has shown up in a St. Petersburg neighborhood (photo courtesy Shondra Farner)
ISLAMORADA, Florida (AP) - The relocation of a crocodile that recently laid its eggs in a Florida Keys front yard reflects shift in policy regarding the threatened reptiles.
The crocodile was moved from a Lower Matecumbe Key neighborhood last week to undeveloped bayside waters about 4 miles away, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The agency will watch over roughly two dozen eggs that were removed from the nest in a flower bed.
State wildlife officials previously avoided relocating crocodiles because the animals are territorial and tend to return to their usual stomping grounds. The reptiles also typically avoid people. According to the wildlife commission, there has never been a recorded crocodile attack on a human in Florida.
The commission's crocodile response coordinator tells The Key West Citizen
that the agency's policy has evolved since a dog was snatched by a crocodile in Key Largo last summer, spooking residents.
"Now if a crocodile is 9 feet or over and in a high-use recreation area, and people are concerned about its presence, we will attempt to capture and translocate him," FWC Crocodile Response Coordinator Lindsey Hord said.
Wildlife officials will also remove crocodiles from private property at an owner's request.
Hord said an increase in crocodile-related calls and rising numbers of crocodiles prompted the more liberal relocation policy.
"These things are very adaptable and ready to live with us," Hord said.
The federal government lists crocodiles as a threatened species. Officials say illegal hunting and habitat destruction are the main threats to its population.