Croc­o­dile num­bers on rise, says EHP

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Dan Bate­man

CROC­O­DILE pop­u­la­tions in Queens­land have been ris­ing since the 1970s, plac­ing more peo­ple in di­rect con­flict with the dan­ger­ous rep­tiles in north­ern Queens­land.

A study by a Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Her­itage Pro­tec­tion (EHP) sci­en­tist has, for the first time, ac­knowl­edged that croc num­bers across the state are in­creas­ing, with the rate of croc at­tacks grow­ing at an av­er­age of 1.3 per year since 1996.

The study, by the depart­ment’s north­ern wildlife op­er­a­tions man­ager, Dr Matt Brien, is to be pub­lished by the CSIRO in com­ing months.

The pa­per, which ex­am­ines pat­terns of hu­man-croc­o­dile con­flict in Queens­land be­tween 1971-2015, states that with the in­crease in con­flict, the on­go­ing man­age­ment of salt­wa­ter croc­o­diles through tar­geted re­movals in and around ar­eas of higher hu­man habi­ta­tion, is es­sen­tial for en­sur­ing pub­lic safety.

Cairns Division 9 Coun­cil­lor Brett Olds called upon the Palaszczuk Govern­ment to re­view the $5.8 mil­lion it is spend­ing on a three-year sur­vey of the state’s croc­o­dile pop­u­la­tions, and chan­nel it in­stead into croc man­age­ment ac­tiv­i­ties.

The large-scale mon­i­tor­ing pro­ject, which be­gan ear­lier this year, will de­ter­mine whether croc num­bers are ris­ing and if so, what man­age­ment ac­tions are needed.

“They don’t need to go out and count ev­ery sin­gle croc,” Cr Olds said.

“They can go up into the Gulf, or in some of the big river sys­tems, and count ev­ery one per square me­tre there, and get an es­ti­mate.

“If they did that, they’d save a few mil­lion dol­lars and put those extra dol­lars into more ranger pro­grams, more cages, and more peo­ple on the ground be­ing proac­tive.”

Dr Brien said that wa­ter­ways be­tween Giru and Cook­town, in­clud­ing the Bar­ron, Rus­sell, Dain­tree and En­deav­our rivers have also been sur­veyed to date, along with the Nor­man and Staaten rivers in the Gulf.

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