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Rare crocodile run over, killed in the Florida Keys

File photo - American crocodile
File photo - American crocodile (Getty Images)

KEY LARGO, Fla. – An American crocodile killed in pre-dawn traffic in the Florida Keys may have been looking for a nest.

The Miami Herald reports the female croc was run over by a tractor-trailer last week.

The driver told the Florida Highway Patrol that he couldn't avoid the 8-foot-long reptile when it walked into the path of the truck.

American crocodiles nearly became extinct by the mid-1970s when only a handful of breeding females -- all in the Keys -- were known to exist.

Habitat conservation on North Key Largo and the Everglades, along with endangered-species protection, helped the crocodile population recover to current estimates of about 2,000 adults. In 2007, the American crocodile's protected status was changed to "threatened."