Mag­netic Is­land swim weighs risk with rogue reptile Wally still on loose

Race against the croc

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - RACHEL RI­LEY rachel. ri­ley@ news. com. au

THE Mag­netic Is­land to Townsville swim will be can­celled for the first time in its 61year history if a rogue 4m crocodile is not trapped in the next fort­night.

The depart­ment charged with track­ing the elu­sive reptile, last spot­ted on June 7, said the an­i­mal may have left the area or died.

More than 50 com­peti­tors from across the coun­try had reg­is­tered to com­pete in the Mag­netic Is­land open wa­ter swim when en­tries closed on Tues­day.

But or­gan­is­ers say the 8km event will be can­celled if the crocodile, dubbed Wally, was not trapped by July 19.

Or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee mem­ber John Bar­rett said the can­cel­la­tion would be un­prece­dented, with only poor weather or num­bers af­fect­ing pre­vi­ous events.

“We will be watch­ing the sit­u­a­tion closely and will leave it un­til a week be­fore the race to can­cel to give peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to make al­ter­na­tive travel ar­range­ments if nec­es­sary,” Mr Bar­rett said.

“Un­like the triathlon fes­ti­val where the field is con­densed and they can have ex­tra safety mea­sures in a small area, this event is over 8km event where peo­ple can be spread out. So if we are not sure of the safety of our swim­mers, we are not pre­pared to take the risks.”

A Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Her­itage Pro­tec­tion said EHP wildlife of­fi­cers con- tin­ued to un­der­take weekly sur­veys in search of the wan­der­ing reptile.

Two he­li­copter searches have been con­ducted and CCTV footage from the Port of Townsville has been re­viewed on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions.

The last con­firmed sight­ing of the crocodile was on June 7 at the Townsville ma­rina.

“The phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics, be­hav­iour and move­ment pat­terns of this an­i­mal have al­ways sug­gested that it is likely to be sick and with­out its own ter­ri­tory,” the spokes­woman said.

The spokes­woman said there were still two traps in place at Al­li­ga­tor Creek, one at the Townsville ma­rina and one at Stu­art Creek.

None had been trig­gered since a 1.9m crocodile was cap­tured at Stu­art Creek. That an­i­mal has been re­lo­cated to Melaleuca Crocodile Farm.

“EHP wildlife of­fi­cers will con­tinue to be vig­i­lant and to carry out their reg­u­lar pa­trols but the threat to the Townsville com­mu­nity is cur­rently the same as it has al­ways been,” the spokes­woman said.

Crocodile sight­ings can be re­ported to EHP on 1300 130 372.

If we are not sure of the safety of our swim­mers, we are not pre­pared to take the risks JOHN BAR­RETT

Pic­tures: ZAK SIM­MONDS

BAGS OF FUN: In­di­ana Thompson, 7, skips down show­bag al­ley; ( inset) In­fla­tion Sta­tion stall holder Lisa Brans­don adds plenty of colour.

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