A massive crocodile trapped in Lake Tarpon is on its way back to the southern part of the state where it will be released, a spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Friday.
A homeowner on Luse Lane said she saw the 11-foot, 700-pound reptile lunge out of the water earlier this week, toward a bird on the shore.
"When he came up on that grass, he just sat there with his mouth open for quite a long time," Wanda Vekasi said. "He was so scary, so much scarier and more powerful looking than the gators, that I just thought I'm never going to be as afraid of gators as I am of that."
FWC spokesperson Gary Morse said this is likely the same reptile initially spotted a couple years ago and then several times since.
"It was first spotted in the Manatee River. We believe that's the same one that's worked its way up," Morse said, adding it's been years since a crocodile made its way this far north. "This is probably the only American crocodile in the Tampa Bay area."
Morse said Florida is the only state in the country with crocodiles; the animal is being taken to an area where about 2,000 other crocodiles currently live.
Vekasi, meanwhile, is glad to the huge reptile is gone.
"Hopefully there aren't anymore out there," she said. "I know that they're indigenous to the southern part of the state and I'd like them to stay down there."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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