- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Researchers say a record number of American crocodile hatchlings were counted in Everglades National Park this year, providing hope that restoration efforts are helping the once endangered species.

University of Florida researcher Frank Mazzotti has been monitoring the crocodiles since 1978, a few years after the reptile received federal endangered status.

Researchers caught 962 of the hatchlings this year in the park, nearly doubling the 554 found in 2013.

The animal’s apparent rebound led to the government reclassifying it as threatened in 2007.

The crocodiles decline is blamed on a network of canals dug into the Everglades to drain marsh water for agriculture, which increased salinity.

Restoration efforts have plugged some of the holes in the park, allowing for better water quality.

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