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Using Magnets to Repel Crocodiles

By M Dee Dubroff     Feb 26, 2009 in Environment
Due to the fact that crocodiles are so territorial, Florida wildlife managers are experimenting to see if they can disrupt their homing ability and keep them away from residential neighborhoods by taping magnets to their heads. Read on for more details.
According to news sources, Florida officials got the idea of using the magnet method to repel crocodiles from Researchers at Mexico's Crocodile Museum in Chiapas where they have had some success with this method, employing it to permanently relocate 20 crocodiles since 2004.
Lindsey Hord, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's crocodile response coordinator, said after reading about this in a biology newsletter:
“Hey, we might as well give this a try. These crocodiles are unique and valuable creatures and we feel like we have a responsibility to live with them as best we can. Most crocodiles in Florida are tagged as hatchlings so biologists can easily recognize them.”
The dilemma with crocodiles is that they are notoriously territorial and when biologists move them from urban areas to new homes in the wild, they often return exactly to the spot where they were captured, and are known to travel up to 10 miles a week to get there. Scientists believe their uncanny sense of accuracy is due to the fact that they rely on the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate. Hence, taping magnets to both sides of their heads disrupts the process and disorients them.
According once again to Lindsay Hord:
“The magnets are just taped on temporarily. We just put them on when they're captured and since they don't know where we take them, they're lost. The hope would be that they stay where we take them to.”
Once an endangered species, today there are nearly 2,000 American crocodiles in coastal south Florida, which represents their only habitat in the continental United States. That puts them in increasing contact with humans, especially in areas where backyards border on canals around Miami and the Florida Keys. Crocodiles are still classified as a threatened species, but the problem is …so is man.
So far, success has been limited to one crocodile and the study is far from scientific, but it does represent a sincere attempt to coexist with some of God’s shall we say, less friendly creatures.
All I can say is if you live anywhere near a Florida canal, watch out for anything moving!
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