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American crocodile

The American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) occurs along the Atlantic coast from southern Florida to northern South American and along the Pacific coast of Central America. Populations outside the United States are generally small and declining, but the Florida population has slowly increased since being placed on the endangered species list in 1975 and has been recommended for downlisting to "threatened" [4].

The pre-Columbian American crocodile population in Florida may have been 2,000 to 3,000 individuals [5]. Development and hunting reduced it to an estimated 1,000-2,000 individuals by the early twentieth century [1]. When placed on the endangered list in 1975, there was a maximum of 20 nesting females and 100-200 non-hatching individuals in a small area of northeastern Florida Bay [1, 4]. The population increased to 220 individuals (adults and subadults) in the mid-1980s [2], to 500-1,000 individuals in 1999 [1], and to an estimated 1,000 individuals by 2003 [3]. The maximum number of nesting females in 2005 was 85 [6]. The crocodile's range has also increased substantially since 1975 and now encompasses much of the historic Florida range including Key Largo, Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay, the southwestern coast and Marco Island [4].

[1] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1999. South Florida Multi-Species Recovery Plan. Atlanta, GA. Available at <http://www.fws.gov/southeast/vbpdfs/species/reptiles/amcr.pdf>
[2] NatureServe. 2005. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 4.5. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. <http://www.natureserve.org/explorer/servlet/NatureServe?searchName=Crocodylus+acutus> accessed: August 13, 2005.
[3] University of Florida. 2003. UF Crocodile Survey To Yield Information About Everglades Health. January 29, 2003 Press Release, Available at <http://news.ufl.edu/2003/01/29/crocodilesurvey>.
[4] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2005. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes American Crocodile in Florida to be Downlisted from Endangered to Threatened. March 24, 2005 Press Release. Available at < http://www.fws.gov/southeast/news/2005/r05-018.html>.
[5] Wolkomir, R. and J. Wolkomir. 2005. The comback of the crocodiles. Wildlife Conservation (online edition). Available at <http://www.wildlifeconservation.org/wcm-home/wcm-article/14597905>.
[6] Mazzotti, F. 2005. Personal communication with Frank Mazzotti, University of Florida, October 2, 2005.

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