Alligators are a common problem in Florida. They are responsible for multiple attacks on humans annually, some resulting in serious injury or even death. Most recent in our memories is the tragic story of two-year-old Lane Graves; in June 2016, the Nebraska boy was killed by an alligator in Orlando, near a Walt Disney World resort.
But unbeknownst to many, Florida also has a crocodile problem – specifically, Nile River crocodiles.
The Nile crocodile is one of the most aggressive animals in the world, and kills hundreds of humans each year along the Nile River – its ancestral home. Recently, however, scientists have discovered three Nile crocodiles in Florida.
This is a serious problem for state wildlife officials. The Nile crocodile is an apex predator along the banks of the river from which it takes its name, and even more so in Florida – where it has no natural predators. But biologists say that even if the Nile crocodile had natural predators here, its aggressive nature would most likely prevail. This crocodile welcomes challenges from other carnivores, and unlike the American alligator or crocodile, it has no fear of humans. It will actively stalk and attack anything with meat on its bones.
An even larger concern is that this invasive species will begin to breed with native alligators, breeding a hybrid species whose numbers could quickly spiral out of control. The Nile Crocodile can grow up to 18 feet long, and females can lay 25-80 eggs within two months of mating.
State wildlife officials say the reptiles likely were brought to the area by unlicensed dealers, who then allowed them to escape or released them from captivity. The State of Florida is doing what it can to eliminate the predators, and punish the people who take them to the Everglades illegally.
Florida has used hunting competitions in the past to remove invasive species. In the Everglades, for example, hunters are openly invited to kill Burmese pythons, while the same is true for lionfish in the Keys.