updated 10/9/2006 8:46:45 AM ET 2006-10-09T12:46:45

Mexican fishermen captured a 7.5-foot crocodile in the Rio Grande, the river that divides part of Mexico and the United States, authorities reported on Sunday.

Illegal migrants from Mexico frequently swim or ride inner tubes across the Rio Grande to reach the United States.

Crocodiles do not normally inhabit the river, and authorities suspect it may have been brought to the area as a pet and then released into the river by its owner.

The reptile was caught on a fisherman's line on Saturday in a sparsely populated stretch of the river on the outskirts of Nuevo Laredo, across from Laredo, Texas.  It was turned over to a local animal shelter.

The crocodile weighed about 130 pounds and appeared to be young and in good condition, said Jose Moreno Araiza, a commander of the Nuevo Laredo fire department, where the fishermen first brought the reptile in the back of a pickup truck.

It was then turned over to the local Animal Protection Society, whose president, Gina Ferrara, said it would be kept for the time being in improvised holding area with a pool of water.

Federal environmental officials were informed of the capture and will eventually decide what to do with the crocodile.

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