Call for fishing ban at popular spot after 'cruel' crocodile act

An outraged Queensland woman is calling for a fishing ban at the lookout on the Proserpine River after captured footage of fishermen appearing to lure a croc.

An outraged Aussie is pushing for a fishing ban at a popular spot after witnessing a “cruel” group of people appearing to bait a large male crocodile to the water’s edge “for their own entertainment”.

The Queensland woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told Yahoo News Australia she saw the “dangerous behaviour” while visiting the Proserpine River near Airlie Beach last week.

A series of videos recorded on Thursday and Friday show the crocodile — a dominant alpha called Boofhead who is well-known in the area — launching out of the water after being lured by a fisherman who waved his bait over the water. “Did he get it?” someone can be heard asking in the background.

A fisherman appearing to lure Boofhead the crocodile to the edge of the Proserpine River.
A Queensland woman is calling for a fishing ban at a popular spot on the Proserpine River after fishermen were caught on video appearing to lure a crocodile named Boofhead. Source: Supplied

Another shows the wild animal waiting by the water’s edge, less than three metres away from the group that now has its back turned to it. In a third clip, Boofhead once again approaches the shoreline and grabs a baited line, causing him to be “snagged for some time”. A fourth shows the croc chasing and catching a small shark attached to a line, with the nylon wire visible in its mouth.

“Something needs to be done,” the woman — who said the behaviour prompted her to contact Queensland’s Department of Environment (DES) about a potential fishing ban in the area — told Yahoo. She also reported the group to the police.

Given the river’s previous dominant alpha named Fat Guts being relocated in 2019 for approaching people and boats, she is pushing for a change so history doesn’t repeat itself.

“I understand that it is a fishing spot but with other crocs being relocated from there for this exact reason, I am considering petitioning the government to stop fishing in this area to allow people to go to the lookout to admire without danger or feeding, which compromises the crocs,” the woman, who said baiting has been evident on all of her annual trips to the river, added.

“The tour operators are very concerned about this behaviour as it is detrimental both for crocodiles and humans, who are interested in this area as both a fishing spot and tourist lookout.” She explained that when he’s not being baited, Boofhead spends “his time largely over the other side of the river”.

Fishing ban not supported by locals

The woman said she believes fishing should be banned at the lookout completely, but her sentiment “doesn’t sit well with the locals”.

“Fishing and hunting is ingrained in our culture but most do this within the law. However, for some it is for their own entertainment and benefit and it’s cruel and dangerous,” she said, claiming the on-the-spot fine of $400 and a maximum penalty of $6,192 for feeding a dangerous or venomous creature that’s capable of harming a person is “not a deterrent”.

“K’gari are issuing $2,000 fines for feeding the dingoes. It’s not consistent,” she said. “The site also needs adequate signage that baiting is illegal and the surveillance cameras need to be repaired and monitored. This is the only way that fishing can continue at this site.

“If people know they are being watched they are more likely to ensure the right thing is being done. There should also be signage to report croc feeding itself.”

The DES told Yahoo last year that feeding crocodiles is “extremely dangerous” because it leads them to associate humans with food. “Anyone with information about the deliberate feeding of crocodiles or dangerous interactions with them is encouraged to report it to DES as soon as possible by calling 1300 130 372,” it said.

Boofhead the croc attacking a shark attached to a fishing line.
If fishing is not banned, there needs to be an increase in penalties, the woman said. Source: Supplied

Fishermen baiting crocs are putting their lives at risk

In November and October last year, videos of Boofhead appearing to be lured by fishermen sparked severe backlash, prompting colourful Queensland crocodile expert Tommy Hayes to label those responsible as “unAustralian deadbeats”.

A petition was created in March pleading for tougher penalties for those who interfere with crocs in their natural habitat.

Conservationist Paul Bowen who runs the Croc Conscious YouTube account previously told Yahoo he also wants to see fines increased. “If they get caught, they just get a slap on the wrist. They’re putting themselves in danger, but they don’t understand the animal they’re playing with” he said. “They might think it’s funny to dangle a fish at them. But that crocodile is probably about 15 feet long (4 metres), with jaw pressure of around 3700 pounds (16,414 newtons).”

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