Authorities have urged visitors to Queensland to exercise caution near waterways after they captured a massive 4.2-metre crocodile.
Baits were set and the animal was trapped on November 14, after a member of the public saw “what they believed to be a large crocodile” at Biboohra, a town with less than 600 people on the Atherton Tablelands.
Following the animal’s capture by rangers, the Department of Environment (DES) reminded visitors to expect crocodiles in all Far North Queensland waterways. It also warned campers never to leave food scraps near the water, to keep pets on a lead and stay at least 50 metres from the water.
The crocodile was removed as part of the Queensland government’s controversial Crocodile Management Plan. That’s because it was living within an area designated atypical habitat zone.
Why removing crocodiles is controversial
While killing crocodiles can give communities peace of mind, some experts believe the practice actually creates a more dangerous situation.
When a large “high-risk” animal was removed from Cape York in March, a crocodile expert and tour guide warned the practice risked destabilising the population and creating a more dangerous situation.
"Everyone thinks that problem is fixed and they go swimming again because it's safe," he said. "But they can swim thousands of kilometres and come in overnight and no one notices. They're so good at hiding, you just don't know if there's one there or not."
Cape York has Queensland’s highest density of crocodiles with around three animals per kilometre. Last week, Yahoo News Australia shared details of a close encounter between a family and a crocodile at a popular swimming spot.
Crocodiles almost hunted to extinction
In the first half of the 20th century, crocodiles were almost hunted to extinction in Australia, but their populations have since rebounded. An estimate in June found there are between 20,000 and 30,000 crocodiles in the wild.
Today eggs are controversially removed from the wild so babies can be raised for their skins which are used by luxury brands to fashion handbags and accessories. The crocodile taken from the Atherton Tablelands will be placed in a registered farm or zoo.
Some politicians, including Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter, believe crocodile culling should be resumed so that more water bodies are accessible to humans. He blames crocodiles for large numbers of unreported deaths.
Crocodile sightings can be reported via the QWildlife app or by calling 1300 130 372.
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