MIAMI (CBSMiami) – After nearly a week of searching, trappers caught “Poncho,” one of two crocodiles which call the canals of a Coral Gables neighborhood home. Poncho, due to distress and exhaustion from being caught in a trap, later died.
The nearly 13-foot crocodile, which Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission confirms is Poncho–nicknamed by residents in the Gables by the Sea neighborhood–was caught in the early morning hours Friday and later died.
Jorge Pino, with FWC, said Friday that the trapping ending in death was not how they wanted it to end.
“It took them approximately 30 minutes or so to bring the crocodile on to shore. Once the crocodile was on the shore the crocodile response agent started to realize that the crocodile appeared to be in distress, it appeared lethargic and very weak,” said Pino.
Poncho had been microchipped and tagged. Pesky Critters trapper Todd Hardwick has caught Poncho twice before and has relocated him to the Keys—34 miles away–but Poncho made his way back both times.
The search began after one of the crocs, which FWC confirmed Friday was indeed Poncho, bit two swimmers last Sunday.
“We were able to use photographic evidence that we have in our possession to compare it to the body and we were able to determine that indeed the crocodile that we have that is now deceased was the crocodile responsible for the bites that happened this weekend,” Pino said.
Alejandro Jimenez, 26, of Doral, was bitten in the hands and torso. Lisset Rendon, 23, of Miami, was bitten in the back and shoulder area.
FWC said Friday that night video and photos taken of the croc that bit Jimenez and Rendon reveal a distinctive mark on the croc’s front leg.
Trapper and FWC said there is another croc in the neighborhood, which some neighbors had believed was the one that actually bit the people, but it will not be trapped because it is not over 9-feet–which stems from an agreement with the neighborhood to remove crocs that are 9-feet and up in length.
Monday evening trappers managed to hook Poncho but he managed to get away.
Trappers, at times, used resident Chris Marin’s backyard as a launchpad to catch Poncho. Marin wants all the crocodiles in the area out after several of his dogs were eaten.
“They brought in people from all over the place they had over 10 trappers trying to get him and they put over a dozen of these traps trying to get him out,” said Marin.
But the removal of the crocodiles has neighbors divided–and Poncho’s death as a result of trying to free himself isn’t good news to all.
“It’s sad. I honestly don’t think people should be swimming in the canal. And I think people should be more afraid of the bull sharks than the crocodiles,” said Kelly Schapert, a resident.
Jack Falk, a neighbor who tried to sabotage trappers efforts by blasting rock music one night in hopes of warning the crocodile, was actually fond of the croc.
“We have a personal attachment to him, we go out there in the evenings in the backyard, we see him cruising around. He’s not bothering anybody,” Falk said earlier in the week.
Pino, after confirming the croc was indeed Poncho, described the croc’s death an “unfortunate situation.”
“It’s sad for anybody that had any contact with this story is impacted one way or another,” said Pino. “It’s a very unfortunate situation. I mean we are the protectors of Florida’s natural resources.”
But Marin believes people and pets of the neighborhood come first.
“I feel relieved, poor thing, I’m a pro-animal activist and everything else, but that’s nature,” Marin.
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