MIAMI (Reuters) - Florida wildlife officials trapped a large crocodile on Friday believed to have attacked a pair of late-night swimmers in a first for the Sunshine State, a spokesman said.
The 300-pound reptile, locally nicknamed Pancho, died soon after being caught, said Jorge Pino, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The attack last weekend in a canal near the upscale Miami suburb of Coral Gables injured a 26-year-old man, who was hospitalized in serious condition, and was blamed on the nearly 13-foot croc.
A 23-year-old woman with him was also badly bitten in what wildlife officials said was Florida’s first ever recorded case of a crocodile attacking a person.
Pino said it could not be 100 percent confirmed that the crocodile caught early Friday was the reptile responsible.
“We may never know if this was the same crocodile, but we’re working under the assumption it was,” he said. Pino said the croc was trapped in a canal near where the attack took place.
“He was very weak and not responding well. He was taken to a facility for observation and he died shortly thereafter,” Pino said.
Although Florida is well known for incidents involving its many alligators, there are fewer than 2,000 American crocodiles, living mostly in the state’s southeast near the Everglades.
The large reptiles are shy and reclusive, experts say, and feed mostly between dusk and dawn. They live mostly in saltwater, but can survive in Florida’s brackish waters where the ocean meets groundwater in a web of canals and waterways.
Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by David Adams and Eric Beech