SALTIE MAPPING FARCE
Everyone knows about river crocs, except the auditors
SALT WATER crocodiles have been spotted more than 200km from the North Queensland coast despite the last State Government audit finding only 258 estuarine crocs between Maryborough and Cooktown.
The Bulletin snapped three crocodiles in a 500m stretch of the Bowen River near Collinsville, 190km from the Burdekin River mouth.
Burdekin MP Dale Last said there was no evidence that officers involved in the last crocodile population survey undertaken in 2009- 10 explored freshwater rivers such as the Burdekin to determine populations.
Mr Last said the survey was largely regarded as a joke by people who explored the area’s freshwater rivers.
“These estuarine or saltwater crocodiles are just as at home in freshwater,” he said.
“The State Government has to get serious and spend the time talking to locals who know these rivers – people like station owners and mustering pilots who fly the rivers and creeks.”
It comes after the Government announced another audit would be undertaken in a review of the crocodile management plan.
But a spokeswoman for the Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Steven Miles could not confirm the scope of the new audit or when it would begin.
She said one of the department’s first steps would be to engage independent experts to audit the science used to gauge numbers.
“The first phase will identify gaps in the science and what is required to fill these gaps,” she said.
“Once we have the science, we will review crocodile management arrangements in consultation with the broader community.”
Mr Last said it was common knowledge estuarine crocodiles could be found right up to where the Bowen River joined the Broken River on the western fall of the Eungella Range, 225km upstream from the Burdekin River mouth.
He said it was also well known there was a population of breeding crocodiles in the Burdekin Dam.
Burdekin River helicopter pilot Wayne Prichard said there was a large estuarine crocodile population in the Burdekin River between the dam wall and the river mouth.
He said there was one specimen measuring seven
is no waterfall or land barrier to block them, they will keep going upriver
BURDEKIN MP DALE LAST
metres which could usually be found where the Bowen and Burdekin rivers met.
In the Government’s 2009- 10 survey, crocodiles ranged from 0.3m to 3.8m.
It was in the area close to the Burdekin- Bowen River junction where Steve Irwin caught his first estuarine crocodiles when building his Australia Zoo near Brisbane.
Dalbeg farmers Sean McShane and Michael Lequerica spent a night in the early 1980s catching a 4.5m crocodile with Irwin near Millaroo.
“He used to trap them in heavy nets using dead pigs as bait,” Mr Lequerica said.
Mr Last said the Cromarty Wetlands had a large, but unknown number of crocodiles.
“You can’t do half- baked surveys like the last one. It will take a lot of time and effort to properly survey the creeks and rivers,” he said.
“The crocs will go as far as the barramundi go. If there is no waterfall or land barrier to block them, they will keep going upriver.”
Tony Menkens, the former owner of Myuna Station on the Bowen River, said the crocs were native to the river.
“The cows used to leave their calves behind when they went down for a drink. It was nothing to see 20 calves in a bunch high up on a bank while the cows were down drinking,” he said.
NO SECRET: Crocodiles have long been and still are active in the Bowen River.