According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a crocodile that was captured on 13th October 2023 in Brevard County, Florida, US, and relocated by state officials to a coastal barrier island to the south in St. Lucie County, has returned to the location where he was captured.

State wildlife researchers are tracking the crocodile’s moves. They told McClatchy News, “This particular crocodile has travelled over 100 miles during the course of 8 months to return to Brevard County, indicating that it prefers this area…To date, this animal has not displayed any concerning behaviours and is not considered to be a threat.”

The American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) is found in South Florida, the Caribbean islands of Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, and the coasts of Mexico to as far south as Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela. They tend to prefer coastal areas, but can also be found in rivers. American crocodiles are a federally threatened species, and it is estimated only about 2,000 adult crocodiles live in Florida.

There have been other documented cases of American crocodiles returning home after being relocated far away. A study published in The Journal of Wildlife Management mentions a female crocodile that was moved 95 miles, and 2.5 years later was seen a quarter of a mile from the same area of her capture. This shows us that what scientists may think is the ideal habitat for crocodiles may not necessarily be what the animals prefer. Because of their ability to return to their preferred home and the stress associated with capture and translocation, it is now thought that translocations have limited conservation value in Florida and may only be worth considering after all other reasonable options are exhausted.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.