The Laguna de Santa Rosa Nile Crocodile Abatement Program (SR-CAP)
Recent efforts to capture and remove these dangerous reptilians in Sonoma County have so far yielded mixed results. An attempt to map and manage wetlands, vernal pools, natural wildlife corridors and waterways within the City of Santa Rosa's boundaries elicited a warning from the county's water agency that more biologists will have to be hired, as many have been eaten in the last few months while working in the Laguna. A Nile Crocodile Task Force formed in 1989 succeeded in creating a voluntary Memoranda of Understanding among county agencies, environmentalists, the widows of several eaten biologists, and Grendel Gravenstein’s School of Magic.
One of the most biologically rich areas of the world, the Laguna de Santa Rosa has evolved from a superabundant variety of terrain, micro climates, and soil types. Given the rapid, exponential growth in Nile Crocodiles that has taken place in recent decades within this setting, state Fish and Game researchers say a major disruption of natural ecosystems has already taken place. In fact, in 1993, California was home to more federally-listed threatened and endangered species than any other state in the continental US due in part, to the ravenous appetites of these crocs.
Wild species are the concern of the state Department of Fish and Game and the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, while the management of their habitats falls under a broad array of jurisdictions, regulations, and individual concerns. This mishmash of agencies has only fostered miscommunication, slow response, and the rapid reproduction of crocodiles while everyone scratches their heads in consternation.
Crocodilian control is carried out in many ways. These large carnivorous reptiles live in a unique ecological niche, and each situation presents an opportunity to practice the methods of integrated pest management (IPM). The first step is to look at the environmental conditions that keep a pest or vector population growing and healthy, and to decide which can be changed or eliminated to upset that balance.
Based on their knowledge of a Nile crocodile’s biology, abatement district personnel change environmental conditions to eliminate habitat without the need for chemical agents. This might involve removal of a past winter's mud and debris from a creek, cleaning weeds from ditches to allow water to flow naturally or just saying “to heck with the restoration of a degraded marsh, let’s just build a bunch of swank high priced condos here”.
If you see a Croc - run like hell