UNRESTRICTED | ILLIMITÉ
Some nuclear-related sites have become (both intentinally and unintentionally) wildlife refuges. Chornobyl's exclusion zone has seen a resurgence in wild life (deer, wild boar, birds) and the seas off Bikini Atoll (except directly beneath where the bomb exploded and pulverized the sea floor) have seen a similar resurgence of sea life. After the radiation fields sufficiently diminished, wildlife returned and humans have largely kept away (due to fear and law). There is no excuse for the contamination of these sites, but it is heartening to see nature recover and thrive, given enough time and lack of humans.
The Turkey Point nuclear station in Florida have used their exclusion zones to provide a habitat to the endangered American crocodile. The Forsmark station in Sweden provides a refuge/biotest basin for the Baltic seal , and Canada's Pickering site has restored a wetland. I recall that other nuclear power station exclusion zones have been used for similar wildlife habitats.
From Globe and Mail
Rare crocs make Florida comeback. Once-endangered animal back with a vengeance and taking a bite out of pet population
April 8, 2009
CORAL GABLES, FLA. -- Three dead dogs, and Chris Marin has had it. He's lived with his family along a canal just south of Miami for several years, and never had a fear of the water - until now.
"When we first moved in, I even put a swing on a tree here for my kids to plunge into the canal," Mr. Marin said.
Then the poodles began to vanish from his backyard - first Spotty, then Luna and Angel. The culprit? In much of Florida, the suspect would be an alligator. In this case, it's a 3½-metre American crocodile.
Mr. Marin, 49, said living on the water just isn't worth it any more. He's packing up and moving.
"You barely get to enjoy the backyard," he said. "My kids won't even step out here."
Listed as a federally endangered species in 1975, after hunting and habitat loss nearly wiped it from the wild, the American crocodile has surged to numbers not seen in a century. Today, the population is about 2,000 at the southern tip of Florida, the species' only U.S. habitat, where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has downgraded its status to threatened.
As it returns to its historical range - now populated by millions of humans - the American crocodile, which can grow to five metres, will be living more in people's backyards, especially those closest to the coast.
"We're seeing crocs in places they haven't been seen in decades," said Lindsey Hord, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
It's alarming to some residents, even in a state that already has more than a million alligators. Florida wildlife officials get thousands of complaints every year from residents fearful of gators, which can eat dogs, cats and, infrequently, people. About 140,000 problem alligators were killed in Florida between 1977 and 2007.
American crocodiles have never made a documented attack on a human in the United States. Here, it's domestic pets that more often become crocodile food.
"Crocodiles don't see much distinction between some small mammal that they have naturally eaten, like a rabbit, and somebody's dog," Mr. Hord said.
Alligators can be found in any freshwater body throughout the state, likely part of the reason for so many attacks on humans - at least 312 unprovoked ones in Florida since 1948, 22 of them fatal - but crocodiles are confined to South Florida.
They need a warmer climate, and live where salt and fresh water mix. Florida is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles co-exist.
Crocodiles are distinguished from gators by their lighter colour, narrower snout and an exposed fourth tooth on their lower jaw. While they haven't attacked people in the United States, American crocs have gone after people in parts of Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean.
Mr. Hord noted that human complaints are rising along with the American crocs' numbers, which he said will likely continue to increase.
Several developments have aided the crocodile's recovery, including habitat protection and some places not specifically set aside for the species. The animal has found an unlikely home on the grounds of Florida Power & Light's Turkey Point nuclear plant about 50 kilometres south of Miami, a sort of replacement habitat for land lost to development in Miami Beach and Key Biscayne.
The remoteness of the site, which is closed to the public, has given the crocodile room to breed. They've reproduced so successfully that now they're venturing out to populated areas.
Some are ending up in neighbourhoods close to the coast, which crocs consider prime habitat, while alligators prefer more fresh water found inland. Christine Esco, who lives down the street from Mr. Marin, has a crocodile in her backyard canal that's become so well known he's even got a name: Pancho. It's the same croc authorities suspect ate Mr. Marin's dogs.
The animal has been relocated twice to more remote areas, and twice he's returned, typical behaviour for the species. The next time he is caught, he'll go to a zoo. Crocodiles get only two chances. The third time they return, they are put in captivity.
"It's very unnerving and scary," Ms. Esco said. "I have two small children. ... Pancho, in my opinion, is a time bomb."
Wildlife officials say residents simply need to take precautions: No swimming in crocodile waters between dusk and dawn, when they feed; supervise children near canals; and keep your pets well away from the water's edge.
American crocodiles are generally less aggressive and more shy than alligators, and "the truth is you're more likely to drown than be attacked by an alligator or a crocodile," said University of Florida Prof. Frank Mazzotti, who has studied crocodiles for more than 30 years. "That said, don't be stupid."
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