Croc hunt con­tin­ues

Fish­er­man in 15 minute battle with beast

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - by Cait Bester and Laura Pack­ham

THE hunt for a 4m croc­o­dile that at­tacked a fish­er­man near Weipa con­tin­ues to­day, with authorities yet to de­cide whether the an­i­mal will be re­lo­cated or de­stroyed.

Todd Bairstow, 28, un­der­went surgery yes­ter­day af­ter be­ing at­tacked at Trund­ing Creek late Wed­nes­day.

The Rio Tinto miner spent 15 min­utes fight­ing the croc be­fore fi­nally get­ting free.

Wit­nesses said the an­i­mal lunged from the wa­ter and tore-off the man’s thumb, push­ing him back­wards and leav­ing his legs to dan­gle in the creek. It then re­turned to grab his legs.

Weipa man Kev Bevin saw the at­tack from the nearby pub and raced down to help.

He belted the croc with a branch un­til it let go. ‘‘ I saw the bloke’s arms hang­ing out and also stick­ing out was the top part of his body, scream­ing out for help,’’ he said.

With his dog by his side, the avid fish­er­man had been cast­ing lures out from the bank at the creek mouth when the croc­o­dile at­tacked.

Fam­ily from South Aus­tralia flew in to be with the man, who is still re­cov­er­ing in Cairns Base Hos­pi­tal af­ter un­der­go­ing two op­er­a­tions.

A Bris­bane wildlife croc­o­dile spe­cial­ist, joined by a team of Weipa po­lice and a lo­cal ranger, will to­day con­tinue the hunt for the mon­strous an­i­mal.

‘‘ Lo­cals say there is a nest­ing fe­male there and has never been a prob­lem, but we’re still not sure if it was this an­i­mal,’’ Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Re­source Man­age­ment’s Michael Dev­ery said.

‘ ‘ The an­i­mal may have moved on, so we need to de­ter­mine it’s there.’’

An Al­ba­tross Bay Re­sort spokesman said staff warned pa­trons about the croc­o­dile seen drift­ing past the pub ev­ery week.

‘‘ The fish­er­man was less than 100 me­tres from the ho­tel and he would have walked past a huge sign that warns peo­ple about crocs,’’ he said. ‘‘ All the lo­cals know he‘ s there but that doesn‘ t stop peo­ple from ig­nor­ing the signs.’’

Weipa Fish­ing Ad­ven­tures owner David New­man, who has lived in the area for 18 years, said most fish­er­men knew they were angling in ‘‘ croc coun­try’’.

‘‘ They all know the dan­gers and it’s just weird this bloke didn’t,’’ he said. ‘‘ There have been quite a few of them around lately.

‘‘ Down at Mis­sion Bridge, fish­er­men lure down there at night, and there’s one big fella that gets a bit cheeky with t hem. There’s al s o Gecko Creek with a big croc in it, where a mate of mine says he gets bumped by the croc nearly ev­ery time he goes through, so he just throws a cou­ple of rocks and goes on his way. But if you ven­ture into its ter­ri­tory it’s not the croc’s fault.’’

Todd Bairstow is taken to Cairns hos­pi­tal

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