March 4, 2009

Florida pinning magnets on unwanted crocs

Florida wildlife researchers are taping magnets to the heads of crocodiles removed from residential areas to try to keep the crocs from returning.

They want to see if the magnets, removed just before the crocodiles are released into the wild, will help short-circuit homing instincts that allow the reptiles to follow the earth's magnetic fields right back to the suburbs in which they were trapped, the Miami Herald reported Wednesday.

Lindsey Hord, a biologist with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, said North American crocodiles will travel 30 to 50 miles to return to their former homes, sometimes within days.

Hord said biologists in Chiapas, Mexico, have reported success in relocating 20 crocs. Similar tests using magnets have worked on ocean-ranging tuna and the homing pigeon, the report said.