A crocodile that loves to lurk in a South Miami canal is back in the neighborhood – and making some residents very anxious.
“I’m having nightmares,” concerned homeowner Tanya Tepper said. “No, I woke up from a dream yesterday morning that the crocodile was in the house and I had to get a chicken because it was going to try and eat the girls.”
Raymond Tepper says it’s the same croc – 5 foot 9 inches long and weighing about 200 pounds – that has been spotted in the area several times before.
“We have video or pictures of it from last time it was here in July,” he said.
The croc – known as number 7 because of his tag – was released south of Black Point Marina on July 25.
“Yeah, it's back. I'm really surprised it came back so soon,” Tobares said.
Most American crocodiles end up returning to their capture sites, explained Lindsey Hord, a biologist and crocodile response coordinator with the FWC's Alligator Management Program.
Number 7 was originally tagged and captured in front of nearby Ludlam Elementary School in November 2011. But he always seems to find his way back to the same canal.
“He can get out of the canal, he's walking the streets,” Tanya Tepper said.
The Teppers have drafted a note to neighbors, asking them to sign an online petition to permanently relocate number 7.
“We don't want to see harm to it, we just want it to be relocated far enough away that it doesn't come back here because of the kids in the neighborhood,” Raymond Tepper said. “That's our biggest concern.”
Hord said the FWC captures and relocates crocodiles when it's most appropriate.
"However, the mere presence of a crocodile is not sufficient justification to attempt to remove one. The American crocodile is protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act. The Florida population is currently listed as 'threatened,'" Hord said in a statement. "Capturing and transporting crocodiles is potential hazardous to them."
The animals can die from the stress of being captured and transported, and they are at "significant risk" as they return to their capture sites from such dangers as crossing roads and boat collisions, according to Hord.
The biologist, who is also affiliated with the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program, noted that there has not been a documented bite of a person by an American crocodile in Florida.
"We encourage people to co-exist as much as possible with these rare and unique native animals. It is possible to safely co-exist with them by following a few common sense safety tips," Hord said.
Click here for the FWC's guide to living with crocodiles, or visit myfwc.com/crocodile for more information.