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HOMESTEAD, Florida (AP) - Federal officials have given their wildlife agents the rare order to shoot to kill in the hunt for a young Nile crocodile loose near Miami.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials made the decision this summer after months of trying to catch the croc. The reptile is only about 3 feet long and not a threat yet, but it could be a danger if it gets bigger.

The Nile crocodile can jump higher and run faster than its American cousin and has a nastier temperament. It also can be larger, reaching nearly 20 feet.

The agency knows of only one on the loose. Experts say at least two others have been caught in the area.

The commission is investigating where the crocodile came from, although it likely escaped from a facility or a local breeder.