Could hunting safaris be the key to controlling crocs?
Should crocodile safari hunting tours be introduced to control the croc population in North Queensland?
Though the concept is a controversial one, there’s a surprisingly strong base of political support for the idea - including from the LNP's candidate for Cairns Sam Marino.
The latest croc attacks, including the death of Cairns spearfisherman Warren Hughes, have renewed the often-fiery debate about the North's crocodile population.
The hot-button issue will come to a head in state parliament in May with Katter’s Australian Party set to introduce legislation that would legalise the killing of crocodiles by government rangers, Indigenous-guide-led shooting safaris and bounty hunting by Indigenous hunters.
A similar debate has been raging in the Northern Territory for the last two decades, with proponents claiming croc-killing safaris would create jobs for the Top End – particularly for Indigenous communities – while ridding areas of crocs deemed a threat to humans.
Detractors say such safaris are inhumane and would do little to reduce crocodile numbers.
Crocodile hunting safaris have been in place across Africa for years, with wealthy hunters paying top-dollar for their chance to shoot giant Nile crocodiles, with the optional extra of having the ‘trophy’ stuffed for thousands of dollars.
The KAP private member’s bill is likely to have the support of One Nation's Steve Dickson on the floor of parliament, but will fail without the backing of the Liberal National Party.
MARINO IN SUPPORT
The Katter MPs may have found an unlikely ally in LNP candidate Sam Marino, who told TropicNow that he could get behind crocodile safaris.
“I’d have concerns about something like this in built-up areas, but no problems if they’re doing it out in the bush,” Mr Marino said.
"I imagine there’d be a lot of hoops to go through to get something like this approved, but if it’s done professionally, I don’t see the problem.”
Labor Party candidate Michael Healy, whose brother was attacked by a crocodile 14 years ago on the Leichhardt River, insisted the Labor Government's recently introduced management plan was an effective way to manage crocs.
The Crocodile Management Plan, announced earlier this month, sees problem crocodiles removed to farms or zoos according to a statewide zoning system.
“The majority of people consulted on the plan did not want a cull, they wanted control,” Mr Healy said.
Crocodile hunting in Queensland was banned in 1974, with anecdotal evidence claiming animal numbers have skyrocketed since then.
Crocodile issues, including the new management plan and public safety, will be discussed at a CrocWise roundtable in Cairns on March 30.
The roundtable will be hosted by the Department of Environment and Heritage and will engage community leaders, council and industry representatives, and crocodile experts.