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  • Renee Cluff

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    Suburban crocodile reignites management debate


    The sighting of a large crocodile in a residential area at Clifton Beach has raised concerns that not enough is being done to remove the reptiles from urban areas.

    The crocodile, estimated to be between 2.5 metres and 2.8 metres long, was spotted in Delaneys Creek on the northern end of the beach this week.



    Cairns Regional Council’s division nine Councillor Brett Olds told Tropic Now the creek is right next to a new housing development and beside a popular walking track.

    “They keep moving in and that’s why we need full time rangers,” he said.

    “I just don’t want them swimming in urban areas near our kids and our tourists.”

    It’s certainly not the first time crocodiles have been seen in the creek and this video taken in 2016 shows the reptiles can be aggressive.

    WATCH THE VIDEO


    Councillor Olds would like to see specially trained rangers spending a 40 hour week to proactively hunt crocodiles in urban areas, rather than react to reports from the public on an ad hoc basis.

    He said the Council has been urging the State Government to undertake more proactive management for years.

    “75 to 80 per cent of every door I knock on is saying, ‘what are we going to do about these crocodiles’.”

    “The parameters are different now than they’ve ever been because we’ve got more people, more tourists and more crocodiles so it’s a different game,” he said.

    “What’s going to happen is as soon as we have a little kid eaten and someone films it, my god we won’t recover from that tourism-wise.

    “The State Government, no matter who is in, will overreact and there’ll be a cull.

    “Let’s not do a cull, let's manage the issue right now.”

    The Department of Environment and Science has a contract with the Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation for the removal of estuarine crocodiles from an ‘active removal zone’ extending from the suburbs of Cairns to Ellis Beach.

    Any crocodile confirmed to be present in this zone is automatically targeted for removal.

    Tropic Now understands the work is only undertaken on a part-time basis and staff members have other jobs.

    A spokesman for the Department of Environment and Science said the terms of the contract are commercial-in-confidence, however in 2013 it was reportedly worth $230,813 per year. 

    The Department of Environment of Science said it also employees 10 full-time wildlife officers in the Cairns region, whose work includes managing estuarine crocodiles and promoting public safety.

    A three-year crocodile monitoring program which will be used to inform the long-term management of estuarine crocodiles in Queensland is due to be completed in 2020.

    There have been dozens of crocodiles reported to authorities in urban areas this year but only a handful of reptiles removed. 

    Reports:

    • 30/07/19 Smiths Creek, Paramatta Park – report forwarded to removal contractors
    • 25/7/19 Half Moon Bay Golf Course, Yorkeys Knob – targeted for removal
    • 15/7/19 Lily Creek, near Paramatta Park – targeted for removal
    • 8/7/19 Lily Creek, near Paramatta Park – targeted for removal
    • 28/6/19 Delaneys Creek, Clifton Beach – warning signs erected, targeted for removal
    • 19/6/19 Yorkeys Knob –warning signs erected, targeted for removal
    • 13/6/19 Yorkeys Knob – targeted for removal
    • 10/6/19 Smiths Creek, Paramatta Park, close to local school – targeted for removal
    • 27/5/19 France Rd, Edmonton – site assessment showed slide marks
    • 24/5/19 Moody Creek, Paramatta Park – targeted for removal
    • 14/5/19 Palm Cove estuary (southern end of beach) – Monitored for further sighting reports
    • 6/5/19 Cattana Wetlands, Smithfield – targeted for removal
    • 6/5/19 Buchans Point, Ellis Beach – warning signs erected
    • 2/5/19 Thomatis Creek, Barron Delta – warning signs erected, targeted for removal
    • 2/5/19 Northern Sands quarry, Barron Delta – Crocwise education to staff, targeted for removal
    • 11/4/19 Crossland Rd, Gordonvale – landholders given Crocwise education
    • 8/4/19 Cairns Marina – further monitoring
    • 4/4/19 Trinity Inlet – further monitoring
    • 2/4/19 Trinity Beach – warning signs erected
    • 30/3/19 Moores Gully, Trinity Beach – deemed unlikely to be a croc
    • 15/3/19 Yorkeys Knob – signs already in place
    • 18/2/19 Nolan St, Whitfield – deemed unlikely to be a croc
    • 13/2/19 Clifton Beach – warning signs erected
    • 10/2/19 Holloways Beach – warning signs erected
    • 7/2/19 Trinity Beach – warning signs erected
    • 24/1/19 Cairns Marina – Crocwise education delivered to marina staff
    • 9/1/19 White Rock – warning signs erected
    • 4/1/19 Ellis Beach – warning signs erected
    • 2/1/19 Kewarra Beach – targeted for removal


    Removals:

    • 10/7/19 – 1.921m male croc removed from Half Moon Bay Golf Club, Yorkeys Knob
    • 12/6/19 – 1.8m male croc removed from Taylor’s Point, Trinity Beach
    • 7/5/19 – 1.56m female croc removed from Taylor’s Point, Trinity Beach
    • 5/4/19 – 2.1m male croc removed from Deep Creek, Kewarra Beach
    • 4/3/19 – 1.16m male croc removed from Barron River
    • 4/3/19 – 2.1m female croc removed from Moon River
    • 5/2/19 – 2.22m female croc removed from Chinaman Creek
    • 5/2/19 – 1.26m female croc removed from Barron River
    • 5/2/19 – 1.67m male croc removed from Chinaman Creek

    Source: CrocWatch, Department of Environment and Science