MIAMI (CBS Tampa/AP) — Crocodiles are making a comeback in South Florida.
The population has multiplied nearly 10-fold since the 1970s. Today, there are more than 1,500 American crocodiles in South Florida.
The Miami Herald reports that as their numbers grow, so do encounters with people and pets. Last year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission fielded 106 “nuisance” croc calls.
“There is no question that with the increase in the crocodile population, encounters are much more common,” Lindsey Hord, a biologist for the wildlife commission, told the Herald.
University of Florida professor Frank Mazzotti says the crocs are reoccupying territory they retreated from as their population dwindled because of hide hunters and coastal development.
“This really pretty much mirrors their historic range,” Mazzotti told the Herald.
The American crocodile is often confused with its plentiful cousin, the alligator. Alligators are black and have broad, rounded snouts and are found throughout the deep South. Crocodiles are grayish, have narrow tapered snouts and their only U.S. habitat is in South Florida.
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