More than 150 people showed interest in two part-time openings to be a crocodile response agent, including one man from Australia who said he would relocate.
The positions were created by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to narrow the agency's response time to calls from Middle and Upper Keys residents who encounter American crocodiles.
The number of crocodiles in Florida has increased from a low of less than 300 in 1975 to an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 now. They are federally protected since they are classified as a threatened species.
"The response agents we have are just too far away," said Lindsey Hord, a biologist for the FWC.
Responsible for the Keys is an agent in Key West and one in Florida City, he said.
Hord said agents must be able to relocate crocodiles without using deadly force, and to do this experience is not required.
"It's on-the-job training," Hord said.
Hord will train the agents based on how much they need.
"There is no official training course," he said.
The American crocodile has gained much local attention since a March incident in Key Largo when a 65-pound Labrador was drowned by a crocodile.
Hord said that incident has caused a lot of "hype," and was not the reason for hiring the new agents.
The agents will be paid $25 per hour and must have their own equipment. Much of what these agents will do won't be wrangling crocs, but taking photographs and relaying information to Hord.
"I need information gatherers and not decision makers," he said.
But he said the agents must have the physical stamina to remove crocodiles when it's appropriate.
While reviewing the applications, Hord said he is looking for someone who is analytical and has a good personality.
Hord said there have been some good applicants and he wants to hire local people.
"We'd like to have people that can respond within 10 minutes," he said.
Once a nuisance crocodile is captured, it must be relocated into a safe habitat or taken to a captive facility.
Feelings are mixed among Keys residents whether crocodiles should be protected and whether lethal force should be used if one of the reptiles poses a threat.
Ken Korshin, 73, of Key Largo, says the crocodiles were here first and response agents are not really needed.
"I think we should leave them alone," Korshin said. He said one incident involving a pet and a crocodile didn't merit the attention it's getting.
But Michael Anzalone, 56, of Islamadora, lives on a canal and wants crocodiles out. He says he no longer trusts putting his feet in the water.
"Eventually something big is gonna happen," Anzalone said, referring to a crocodile attack on a human -- something that has never happened in Florida.
Anzalone said humans should not be wasting their resources to protect endangered animals.
"That's mother nature's way of getting rid of crocodiles," he said.
Anzalone wants to see crocodile response agents relocating the animals out of the area,
"I wouldn't care if I never saw another crocodile," he said.
In May, Hord visited the Islamorada Village Council to ease its concerns about crocodiles.
Councilmen challenged Hord for protecting crocodiles that could endanger children.
Hord told the council that common-sense strategies need to be used, such as fencing dock areas, not swimming at night and keeping pets away from the water.