Croc seen lurk­ing in bay area where woman went miss­ing

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - RACHEL RI­LEY

A THREE- me­tre crocodile was re­port­edly seen by po­lice in Mis­sion­ary Bay on the same day a Mel­bourne woman went miss­ing from the Hinch­in­brook Is­land area.

Leisha O’Don­nell, 52, fell over­board from a house­boat and was re­ported miss­ing by her hus­band nine days ago, spark­ing an ex­ten­sive search around the is­land.

Where Mrs O’Don­nell dis­ap­peared is a known crocodile habi­tat and the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Her­itage Pro­tec­tion con­firmed they did in­ves­ti­gate an an­i­mal sight­ing.

“Wildlife of­fi­cers … as­sisted Queens­land po­lice in the search for a miss­ing woman at Mis­sion­ary Bay,” an EHP spokes­woman said.

“This fol­lowed a re­port from po­lice that a 3m crocodile was seen dur­ing their search op­er­a­tion on Sun­day, June 12.

“There has been no con­fir­ma­tion that a crocodile has been in­volved ( in the dis­ap­pear­ance).”

Po­lice yesterday would not con­firm whether the crocodile sight­ing was be­ing pur­sued as part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Mean­while, wildlife of­fi­cers are con­tin­u­ing the hunt for a 4m crocodile last seen at the Townsville ma­rina on June 7, de­spite clos­ing the door on all de­ployed traps. An EHP spokes­woman said search ef­forts have in­cluded the area south of Townsville.

But she said there had been no con­fir­ma­tion of the an­i­mal’s pres­ence, which could be due to the reptile “mov­ing on or pass­ing away”.

“Wildlife of­fi­cers have con­ducted two he­li­copter sur­veys of the area in re­cent days and are mon­i­tor­ing lo­cal wa­ter­ways by boat just about ev­ery day,” the spokes­woman said.

“There are traps in place at a num­ber of lo­ca­tions but due to the cold weather these are cur­rently closed.

“Crocodiles do not metabolise food very quickly when they are cold and they are there­fore not in­ter­ested in baited traps.”

Crocodile sight­ings can be re­ported to EHP on 1300 130 372. The depart­ment in­ves­ti­gates all re­ports it re­ceives.

Leisha O'Don­nell.

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