‘New croc management strategy can’t come soon enough!’

Published: September 7, 2023

An update of Queensland’s crocodile management plans is expected by the end of the year and, for many, it can’t come soon enough.

The Cairns Post reports that the maps currently guiding saltwater crocodile management, which were drawn up in 2018, have come under strong criticism for not keeping pace with croc population increases.

It says new semi-rural housing development around Cairns and tourism use of Far North rivers has seen the calls for change to become ever-more urgent.

Roderic Rees, the director of Cairns Adventure Group – which operates whitewater raft and tubing tours on the Mulgrave, Barron and Tully rivers – told the Cairns Post that his company was assessing the risk of croc attacks every day.

“Croc management zoning around Cairns and surrounding areas needs a serious review,” he said. “I fully understand we need to cohabitate but when the safety of the public comes into question there definitely needs to review of policy around croc management.”

Traditional owner, Aggie Munro, said crocs have been seen at the Goldsborough Valley Campgrounds where there are no croc warning signs in an area long believed to be safe. The Cairns Post reports that, earlier this year,  the owner of adventure paddleboard company, What’SUP Cairns, Ally Chadburn, was forced off the Mulgrave River by a big croc, with confirmed sightings at the campground which is more than 45 kilometres from where the river meets the sea.

With new estates opening up in the Goldsborough Valley and use of the river by swimmers new to the area, Ms Chadburn told the Post that unless something was done, someone will get taken.

“There is nowhere safe on the south side for people to go any more,” she said.

However, the Cairns Post reports that, according to DES, the Mulgrave River at Goldsborough is not suitable for the installation of a physical crocodile barrier due to the large volumes of water that flow through the area during high rainfall events.

A new Crocwise Strategy currently being formulated by the Department of Environment is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

“The Queensland Government is committed to balancing the highest possible levels of public safety with the conservation of viable crocodile populations in the wild,” a DES spokesman told the Cairns Post.

Since 1975, there have been 46 estuarine crocodile attacks on humans in Queensland, 16 of which have been fatal.

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It’s about time a common sense approach to crocodile management was accepted and put into practice. Signage and reserve areas may be some of the necessary choices with appropriate fencing to keep people out of danger . This reptilians are from a time in our world that was both treacherous and unsustainable for human life. We no longer live in those times. Don’t get me wrong , I’m all for preserving the species and maintaining wild life as much as possible that is also safe for human life and co habitation in areas of wildlife habitat. But if the crocodile or any other wildlife species is in affect threatening human life should not the management be around protecting both the animals and humans . Surely having areas of tourism safety netted off to protect human life against crocodile attack would be beneficial and on the other side remove dangerous crocodiles from civilisation areas to prevent having to destroy the animal. We cannot go around willingly destroying animals if it can be better managed. I am not suggesting my proposal is the answer but we cannot shoot crocodiles for the heck of it . I believe management is important and I believe Aboriginal input and those who have the knowledge would be a really good way of making sure the decisions made for management are the correct ones.

If they could set up a croc reporting site for people using these areas – it would give DES better data on where crocs are. That is necessary to push through changes. There are small numbers of Rangers and they can’t be everywhere. And definitely indigenous Rangers should be part of this as they are more likely to spot them.
But the question is still there – what do we do with those we catch? Are there enough croc farms that will take them? Seeing crocs in the wild is a thrill, but so is swimming in natural places in the bush. We don’t want to have to stop that especially in summer when stingers close northern beaches. There should be good consultation with local people who have left bed with crocs and decisions not made from southern cities.

As the atmosphere, ground and water warms and as the crocs continue to breed unhindered, due to territorial requirements of larger crocs, more and more will be driven south and inland making all QLD waterways unsafe for humans, eventually. My solution; give aborigines the right to hunt crocs in the western and southern edges of their habitat and sell skins and meat.

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