A wannabe crocodile hunter has been slapped with a $12,000 fine after posting video of his illegal exploits on TikTok.
Jayden Wilson was sentenced in the Townsville Magistrates Court on Tuesday for catching, or attempting to catch, 16 reptiles from the Ross River in northern Queensland, according to Queensland's Department of Environment and Science (DES).
The 27-year-old, who pleaded guilty to 12 counts of taking a protected animal, has also been ordered to pay $1,500 in legal costs. His convictions have been recorded.
The court was told Wilson tried to catch crocodiles using a lasso and a net, the ABC reports, and posted footage of a number of incidents to social media, in which he also showed himself releasing the animals.
A TikTok of Wilson reaching into the water to grab a crocodile with his bare hands has racked up more than 100,000 views. Another showing him holding a small crocodile up to his leg has been viewed more than 300,000 times.
“His offending was both intentional and persistent and he encouraged others to take part,” Katy Kutra, a lawyer for the DES told the court, the ABC reports.
“There is a real possibility that the defendant has encouraged this behaviour in the community.”
However, Magistrate Ross Mack said he was not concerned as “only an idiot would do what he did”.
Wilson’s lawyer Mathai Joshi argued the 27-year-old wasn’t aware that his “extremely silly behaviour” was an offence, the ABC reported.
Cruelty complaint kicks off investigation
An investigation into Wilson’s unlawful acts was launched in 2021 after a member of the public made a cruelty complaint to the RSPCA, according to the DES.
A probe confirmed the father of two repeatedly attempted to catch crocodiles with rope or by hand near Loam Island Boat Ramp. The offences took place between November 2020 and 2021.
“DES compliance officers conducted a search of social media and found eight videos that had been posted showing a man approaching and catching and removing, or attempting to catch, freshwater crocodiles of various sizes,” the department said in a statement.
“Catching or attempting to catch freshwater crocodiles is foolish and risky behaviour – it is also illegal. Freshwater crocodiles, including juvenile animals have very sharp teeth which they use to slash from side to side.
“They are capable of inflicting serious injuries on humans. People are reminded to never provoke, harass or interfere with freshwater crocodiles – even juveniles, as they will lash out if they feel threatened or cornered.”
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