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A huge crocodile in Belize was found floating belly-up after dying a painful and slow death from a fishing gear injury.

The 11-foot crocodile was found in the Placencia Lagoon in Belize, and the Crocodile Research Coalition (CRC), a local nonprofit group, was called to determine how the animal had died. They determined that the crocodile died between 48 and 72 hours earlier due to swallowing a baited hook.

The CRC posted on their Facebook, calling it an “unfortunate loss to the crocodile population and biodiversity of Placencia Lagoon.”

The CRC wrote that it is a common practice for fishermen to use baited hooks to catch grouper, but the form of fishing can catch and kill other wildlife as well. They wrote about another crocodile that was killed in the area in 2019 under similar circumstances.

“Despite the tough stomach mucosa of crocodiles, large hooks can pierce through the stomach and other internal organs, leading to a slow and agonizing death of the animal,” the CRC wrote.

The CRC points to research that shows the American crocodile is considered critically endangered in Belize. The populations have declined in the country due to habitat loss, illegal hunting, and pollution.

American crocodiles are one of the largest crocodile species. They are classified as vulnerable worldwide on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.

Crocodiles are resilient wild animals that have stood the test of time and outlived dinosaurs. Although they should be revered and protected as living relics from prehistoric times, they are sadly the target of exploitation by humans, like most wild animals in the world.

Sign this petition to ban the use of exotic crocodile skins!

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