Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Croc Update

American croc no longer near extinction - Yahoo! News: "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declassified the American crocodile as an endangered species Tuesday, saying the animal has rebounded from the edge of extinction.

The reptile remains protected under the federal Endangered Species Act even though it was downgraded to a 'threatened' species, making it illegal to harass, poach or kill the reptiles.

'It's just one step closer to recovery, but it still has many, many threats,' Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Tom MacKenzie said. 'It's still protected with the full force of federal law.'

The crocodile was on the brink of disappearing from South Florida, its only U.S. habitat, when it was originally listed as a federally endangered species in 1975. By 1976, the population was estimated at just about 300. Scientists now estimate there are up to 2,000 American crocodiles in Florida.

'Crocodiles were a part of Florida's history for hundreds of years until human activities such as urban development, agricultural conversion, and over-hunting decimated their populations,' said Sam D. Hamilton, the service's southeast regional director.

'In the past 30 years, we have made great strides in protecting this species and conserving its habitat,' Hamilton said. 'Today, we can celebrate their comeback.'"

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