Croc numbers recover

By Lisa Martin/AAP 28 June 2010
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The biggest survey of crocodiles in Queensland has revealed the population is healthy.

THE BIGGEST CROCODILE STUDY undertaken in Queensland has concluded their numbers are steady and there is no evidence of the reptiles heading south beyond known croc country.

Queensland Department of Environment surveyed 48 rivers between Cooktown and Maryborough, covering 735 kilometres. The survey was done from boats between September 2009 and February 2010.

Wildlife officers sighted 293 crocodiles; 258 were estuarine and 35 freshwater crocs, ranging in size from 0.3 metres to 3.8 metres in length. Hatchlings were found in 37 per cent of waterways surveyed.

Crocodile sightings by members of the public could become more common because of ongoing coastal development, the study also found. But it found no evidence of crocodiles in waterways surveyed between the Fitzroy River and the Mary River near Maryborough.

Acting minister for climate change, Annastacia Palaszczuk said commercial shooting ended more than 35 years ago but crocs were still considered vulnerable. “We can conclude from this survey that the crocodile population is still in recovery following the impact of commercial shooting when they were almost hunted to extinction,” she said.

Opposition MP Andrew Cripps, who is based in Ingham in far-north Queensland rejected the report’s findings. He has been pushing for changes to crocodile management policies.

“It in no way reflects the experience of local residents in North Queensland in relation to their interaction with crocodiles, particularly at public facilities like boat ramps and around stinger nets,” Mr Cripps told the Cairns Post.

Tips to avoid becoming a crocodile’s lunch:

– Never swim where crocodiles live.

– When fishing, stand a few metres back from the water’s edge.

– Never stand on logs or branches overhanging deep pools.

– Never clean fish or discard fish scraps near the water’s edge or at boat ramps.

– Don’t dangle your arms or legs over the side of a boat.

– If you fall out of a boat get out of the water as quickly as possible.

– Obey crocodile warning signs.

– Be more aware of crocodiles at night and during the breeding season from September to April.