American crocodile removed from Lake Tarpon
PALM HARBOR – "I was afraid to come out. That thing was scary," recalled Wanda Vekasi.
Vekasi lives on Lake Tarpon and was standing inside her home when she had to look twice at what was laying in the grass next to the lake.
"This thing was just so much scarier looking than 'gators. I'm not so afraid of 'gators anymore," laughed Vekasi.
The 11-foot American Crocodile, which is on the Federal Endangered Species list, had been living in the lake and evading capture for more than a year. It was most recently spotted several months ago near the outfall canal at the southern end of Lake Tarpon.
"To have an American Crocodile this far north in the state is very unusual. Generally they're found south of Fort Myers around through the Miami area," said Gary Morse with FWC.
Officials say although it's unusual for the crocodile to be here, getting here is not difficult.
"The animal ends up in Lake Tarpon by going through culverts or walking across land, swimming up creeks, rivers, etc," Morse said.
It took Captain Michael Amyx and three crew members to remove the crocodile; estimated to be about 700 pounds.