CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) — Following the search for a crocodile in the Coral Gables community of Gables By The Sea, Florida’s top crocodile expert weighed in on the “croc”controversy.
Seeing two crocodiles in one place is an extremely rare thing, since there are fewer than 2,000 crocodiles living in Florida.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Crocodile Coordinator Lindsey Hoard said most of the crocodiles in South Florida can be found in the Florida Keys and southern parts of Miami-Dade County.
Hoard said the two people who were bitten last month during a late night swim in a lake behind homes in Gables By The Sea are lucky to be alive.
“Based on the size of this animal, he could have easily killed either one of them,” Hoard said in an interview with CBS4’s Brian Andrews. “If people didn’t get in the water where there were crocodiles then we would never have a bite.”
Hoard said the 13-foot long crocodile that bit the two swimmers was well-known to wildlife authorities and even had the nickname of “Poncho.”
“This particular crocodile had lived in that community, unknown to everybody, but the people living on that lake,” said Hoard.
Poncho was a hatchling, born in nearby Chapman Field in 1998. He had been tagged and removed from the lake before and taken to an area south of Homestead.
Experts said crocodiles are like Raccoons. They have excellent homing skills.
Somehow, Poncho made his way back to Gables By The Sea, where he died late last month in the process of being captured again after biting the swimmers.
“We’ve had crocodiles return from significant distances back to their capture site,” said Hoard. “Hopefully, people will begin taking the necessary steps to co-exist safely with these animals, because they’re here to stay.”
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