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5 August, 2021

Crocodile management needs improvement

A CROCODILE tour operator in the far north says as the state government is spending a considerable amount of money on management and on making its CrocWise program permanent, a lot of improvements are needed.

By David Gardiner

Snapping Croc Tours in Innisfail

The main problem, according to Snapping Tours owner Brenton Gangemi told Cairns Local News that the Department of Environment and Science does not focus on removing crocodiles from the right areas.

“They are too quick to remove crocodiles from areas where people don’t swim at all, like in the rivers,” Mr Gangemi said. “They really need to focus on swimming holes and ensure there are no crocs anywhere around these areas,” he said. “In a lot of cases they’re doing a terrible job.”

But he also acknowledges that there are many good, skilled people in the DES and that they could also pay more attention to common sense and getting the message across to people about croc safety.

After recently finishing a three-year study on crocodile numbers which found steady growth since the 1970s, the environment minister Meaghan Scanlon said the review would involve looking at how wildlife officers and scientists can respond to population trends, improve the management program and bolster public safety through ongoing education programs.

“It might mean we need to target our CrocWise program to more places like beaches and watering holes, where people might’ve never seen a crocodile before.”

And Mr Gangemi says that should also take in, for example, boat ramps, where often fishermen don’t think before they throw fish skeletons and other waste into the creeks and rivers, attracting crocs to come dangerously close.

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“I’ve seen it many times, where fish scraps are thrown into the water at the boat ramp where people are in the water.”

Ms Scanlon said the rebounding numbers is good news from a conservationist perspective, but it shows there’s never been a more important time for people to exercise vigilance in croc country and to make the CrocWise program permanent. 

“While crocodile populations aren’t like that in the NT, we have wildlife officers on the ground who remove problem crocodiles – and this survey will allow rangers to now look at how they can build on that expertise,” she said.  

“But it remains crucial for people to continue to be vigilant when in croc country, whether that’s following the signage, reporting crocodiles, staying away from croc traps and fishing safely.”

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