In the past there have been a series of close encounters with crocodiles in our neighborhood. American crocodiles are a protected species. Years ago their population was very small -- only in the hundreds so they were considered endangered. In early 2000, the population was found to have increased to thousands of crocodiles so in 2007, they were downgraded to a threatened species. The HOA is actively working with officials to find a solution to this growing problem for South Florida residents. We ask our neighbors to talk to their families about this issue and follow the instructions provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
To see a video of a crocodile in the community filmed by a resident. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZsVy4qS_m0
Anyone concerned with an alligator should call the Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (392-4286). Information about the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP) can be found by visiting theirwebsite http://www.myfwc.com/WildlifeHabitats/Alligator_nuisance.htm.
A downloadable version of is “Living with Alligators” which contains common sense tips for living around alligators is available on the webpage linked above. We should keep our distance and not approach a crocodile. Download a copy of “ Living with Alligators” brochure at http://www.myfwc.com/WildlifeHabitats/Crocodile_index.htm.
If you have questions, or concerns about crocodiles please contact the Alligator Management Program telephone: 863-462-5197
Below is an e-mail sent by Mr. Lindsey Hord; previously of the Alligator Management Program in response to the concerns voiced by residents who called the Alligator Nuissance line in the past.
"The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is sensitive to your concerns about the presence of crocodiles in your neighborhood. Our primary objective, when dealing with human-crocodile conflicts, is public safety, first and foremost. However, we have to balance realistic human safety against the needs of a rare and unique native animal that is recovering from the brink of extinction. When we receive a complaint about a crocodile, each and every circumstance is carefully reviewed and appropriate action is taken. Most often, concerns about crocodiles are simply fears of its mere presence. Consequently, the most reasonable action is to simply leave the crocodile alone. We do our best to educate people about crocodiles, and what true danger they pose to people and their pets. Our hope is to encourage and enable people through that education to understand and appreciate crocodiles. As mentioned in previous messages, people and crocodiles can and do safely co-exist. Fortunately, the crocodiles are happy to live with us. And, in most circumstances, we can live with them. We believe, it is reasonable to ask people, like yourselves, who live in crocodile country to take some reasonable steps to co-exist with crocodiles. Those steps are outlined in our “Guide to Living with Crocodiles,” which is attached.
There is no easy solution to an unwanted crocodile, especially one that is simply swimming around and not exhibiting any abnormal behavior. We do occasionally capture and translocate crocodiles in circumstances where that’s the appropriate action. However, the crocodiles invariably return to their capture site or die in their return journey. We have every indication that Florida’s crocodile population will continue to grow. Consequently, removing a crocodile or two from the “heart” of crocodile country will not solve the long-term problem. There will be others even if these didn’t come back.
One of you mentioned the three dogs that were taken by one of the larger crocodiles. That happened several years ago and we captured and translocated that animal twice. He came back both times. I can’t over emphasize the fact that pets are not safe in or near the water in Florida. Fortunately, almost all these tragic occurrences are avoidable. We have alligators and/or crocodiles in most wetlands areas. Nothing we can do will change that. Pet owners have to take responsibility for keeping their pets away from the water and the danger that alligators and crocodiles pose to them.
Another of you mentioned that the crocodiles were “eating all the ducks”. I assume the ducks are Muscovy or Pekin ducks, or feral mallards. None of those are native animals. It would be very hard for us to defend removing a protected native species because it was eating non-native animals in public waters. Additionally, feeding those non-native ducks or other wildlife in the water could be an attractant to the crocodiles.
Several of you mentioned the presence of crocodiles behind the plugged canals. As I have stated in previous messages, the people that live behind the plugs that are concerned about the presence of crocodiles have a unique opportunity to inhibit crocodiles from coming into their back yards. Those residents could cooperate and erect barriers on the plugs that would impede crocodile access into the canal. Additionally, as I’ve stated in the past, if barriers meeting our specifications were erected, we would be willing to capture and remove larger crocodiles that succeeded in getting into the plugged canals.
Almost all of you mentioned the threat that crocodile pose to your children. I understand as a parent and grandparent your concerns. However, I have to be realistic about that threat. There has not been a documented bite to a person by a crocodile in Florida. We would like to keep it that way. We recommend that people only swim in designated swimming areas and never swim in areas known to be inhabited by large crocodiles. Parents have to make informed and reasonable decisions about what kind of risks they are willing to allow their children to take. In contrast to your fears about crocodiles, about 450 people drown every year in Florida. As I previously stated, we have not had a documented bite by a crocodile.
One of you asked that I research the number of crocodile complaints we have received from behind the plugs versus complaints on the salt-water side. We are working on that, and will get that information to you when its complied.
Unfortunately, several of you made threats about what action you might take towards the crocodiles. I feel obligated to make you aware that the American crocodile is a federally protected species. It is protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Taking or attempting to take a crocodile could result in very serious consequences. Consequently, I would advise against any such rash and unwarranted behavior.
At this time, we do not believe it is best to capture and trans-locate the crocodile(s) you have reported to us. We are committed, however, to keeping our line of communication open. If additional information develops that warrants additional action, we will do so promptly."
Gables by the Sea neighbor found crocodile swimming in pool on August 13, 2011.
A guide to living with Crocodiles: provided by Mr. Lindsey Hord with the the Alligator Management Program.