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5 August, 2021

Residents reminded to keep their distance from BIG ‘Clyde’ at Russell River Bridge

HARDLINERS will insist ‘the only good croc is a dead croc’ but many of the residents in the Babinda and East Russell areas are taking the bite out of the debate on what should or should not be done with a large crocodile regularly seen sunbaking in the Russell River in recent weeks.

By David Gardiner

Professional croc keeper Jesse Crampton, who lives locally

Local social media posts have led to a poll about what to name the croc, estimated to be 3.5-3.8 metres in size, rather than whether it should be removed.

The colder water in the river and welcome sunny weather have prompted the big reptile to bask frequently on a sandy bank near the Clyde Road Bridge in recent weeks. Locals have been snapping up the opportunity on their phone cameras and drones.

The poll taken from suggestions of what to name the croc so far favours ‘Clyde’, after the road.

But the publicity has also drawn a serious and dangerous element to the crocodile sighting.

Local crocodile expert Jesse Crampton told Cairns Local News that he has already seen large bones and fish frames right near where the animal has been spotted sunning itself, evidence that someone has been taking risks by getting up close to feed the croc.

Jesse says people don’t realise how quickly crocs can attack, especially when they quickly learn to associate their food source with people.

“The thing about crocs, once they lose their fear of people, they don’t discriminate,” Jesse said. “They don’t care if they eat the fish that you’re feeding out or you.”

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A professional croc handler and keeper, Jesse has for a long time been watching this crocodile and others close by. Only last weekend, he spotted four of similar size crocs within a small radius.

He says it’s sad that while a great majority of people have common sense and respect the crocodile and others like it, it is difficult to stop everyone doing “dumb stuff” like feeding them.

“This crocodile has lost its fear of people and he will soon become a problem animal and no doubt the DES will target him for removal. Once he’s gone, there’ll probably be a vacuum effect; another crocodile will take his place, and then we’ll deal with the saga again and again.”

His message is, don’t be an idiot. “Respect the animal, appreciate it from a distance, don’t try to feed because even if it’s a bit of fun and a bit of a rush for you at that point in time, it could be dangerous for the next people that come down, the croc could lunge out looking for food, or ultimately the crocodile will be removed, or it could be destroyed as a result of it.”

Clyde has already been reported to the DES at least twice. But his friends and admirers are hoping everyone stays sensible, gives him space and certainly refrains from feeding the big croc.

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