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Crocodile Population Multiplies Nearly 10-Fold In South Florida

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File photo of an American crocodile. (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

File photo of an American crocodile. (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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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.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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