By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Beyond the reach of even the most acquisitive Miami arriviste or LRM reader, Las Meninas resides safely at the Museo del Prado in Madrid. The caption that runs with the image in the magazine notes: "There is so much mystery in art collecting."
Big Lizard in My Back Yard, IIThe Bitch was both amused and alarmed at the to-do over endangered American crocodiles in a University of Miami lake. The first reptile -- an eight-foot male -- was trapped and relocated this past December, but no sooner was that animal caught than another, larger croc appeared.
Didn't people realize they had a living treasure in the lake? Or weren't they aware that crocodiles have been known to return to favorite spots even after being transported hundreds of miles away? Aren't there rules about pestering endangered animals? Very few people ever see these creatures outside of captivity. Why not put a fence around the lake and (especially since this happened at a university) study the animal?
Crocodile expert Joe Wasilewski answered The Bitch's questions. "Well, they're not an aggressive animal at all," he said via cell phone from the estuarine sanctuary near Turkey Point, where he monitors American crocodile populations. "I've worked with them for fifteen years -- oops, there's one now -- and never had a situation where my safety was in jeopardy." So why disturb them at all? Wildlife officials have used the crocs' precarious natural history to justify refusal to remove them from spots such as Crandon Park, where they consumed thousands of dollars worth of exotic birds. "It's not really the crocodiles that are the problem," Wasilewski says. "It's the students. How long before someone decides to feed one of those animals a sandwich? Or a pizza? Hilarious, right? But once they associate people with food, they do become dangerous."
The emergence of the second crocodile could mean that UM had a breeding pair on its hands -- an opportunity for observation, and also a situation that would make relocation even more inadvisable. "They could have been breeding, although I doubt there are many great nesting sites around there," Wasilewski says. "Or it could have been males wrangling over territory. Either way, these animals or other males are probably going to keep popping up in that location."
Trapper Todd Hardwick agrees that the 'Canes were the deciding factor in the removal. "With thousands of kids and beer flowing freely, a crocodile is too attractive a hazard," he says. "When I was a kid, I would have been the first one organizing a team to get the thing and put it in Shalala's office. You'd go down in history!"
Hardwick says the species' protected status keeps him from doing anything that could potentially harm the reptile. "With a gator, I could throw a baited hook in the water and reel him in, but not with a crocodile," he says. "We've had to design an all-new, never-before-seen, state-of-the-art crocodile trap, which we'll be using for the first time at the university."
Hardwick expects regular gigs at the U. "I once relocated one from Miami-Dade County to Naples, and within six months it was back in the exact same pond."