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Residents in a South Florida neighborhood, Enchanted Lake, have spotted a crocodile in their midst. One man wants wildlife officials to come get it, but they say crocs tend to go right back, and that the threatened species are not aggressive like alligators.
They call it Enchanted Lake, and since about August, a large American crocodile has called it home.
"I would say he's eight or nine feet, that's my guess," said Jan Olofsen, who lives on the lake and sees the roving reptile on a regular basis and isn't frightened by it at all.
In fact, you could say Olofsen marvels at the chance to see a threatened species up close and personal in this oasis of nature just minutes from the Aventura Mall.
"I'm not worried about the crocodile," explained Olofsen, "because we always go jet skiing, a lot of people here have fun on the water, but it doesn't seem like there's a conflict between us."
Victor Mantel has a slightly different take on the scaly, primordial beast.
"Sure I'm worried, I've got three dogs here, we're afraid to leave the dogs out by themselves," Mantel said. He lives on a canal that runs into Enchanted Lake.
Mantel says the crocodile, and it appears to be the same one Olofsen sees in the lake, spends a lot of time sunning itself on a small boat moored behind Mantel's home in a thicket of mangroves.
"It's there almost every day from about 11 in the morning to about four in the afternoon," Mantel said. "We never use the jet ski anymore because we're afraid to disturb the croc. It was interesting at first, now it's not."
Mantel called state wildlife officials and asked to have the crocodile relocated. Unlike alligators,which are abundant, American crocodiles are a threatened species and protected by law.
A nuisance alligator could be removed and killed, but not so for crocodiles. As Sgt. Jorge Pino of the Florida Wldlife Conservation Commission said, the agency evaluates each case to see if the animal poses a threat to humans. If it's determined that it does, trappers will relocate the crocodile. But the animals seem to always find their way back.
"I'll give you an example, the University of Miami crocodile that showed up on campus a few years ago, we removed him several times and sure enough he would come right back, " Pino said.
There has never been a documented attack by an American crocodile on a human. Pino says they are not aggressive like their cousins, the alligators.
"They mind their own business, " Pino says, "they like to stay away from humans as much as possible, so the best bet is leave them alone."