Not too close: Council wants escaped crocodiles removed from waterway

More than 20 saltwater crocodiles have been found in a far north Queensland waterway, far from their natural habitat. Now the council wants them removed.

Nov 19, 2020, updated Nov 19, 2020
The remains of a missing fisherman are believed to have been found inside a large crocodile.. Photo: ABC

The remains of a missing fisherman are believed to have been found inside a large crocodile.. Photo: ABC

A far north Queensland council is calling on the State Government to remove a population of saltwater crocodiles found living far from their natural habitat before they reproduce.

The Mareeba Shire Council commissioned two surveys of local waterways on the Atherton Tablelands, in the Cairns hinterland, 400m above sea level and 65km from the coastline.

More than 20 saltwater crocodiles were found living in the Lake Mitchell and Two Mile Creek waterways — in the Quaids Dam area near Mareeba — an area where crocodiles are not normally found.

It is not known exactly how the reptiles got into the area, but theories suggest they may have escaped from a nearby crocodile farm, several years ago.

Mareeba Mayor Angela Toppin said they commissioned the survey as a result of community fears that the crocodiles could travel into the Barron River, a popular swimming and recreational area.

“We are not a natural habitat for saltwater crocodiles, and eventually these crocodiles will mature to a stage where they will reproduce, and there’s no guarantee that they won’t move into other waterways,” Toppin said.

“These crocodiles need to be removed. The State Government needs to move very fast on this.”

The survey found no evidence of saltwater crocodiles in the Barron River, but rather, several small isolated pockets of freshwater crocodiles, who are naturally found in the area.

Brodie Moloney, from the Top End Crocodile Service, was commissioned by the council to conduct the survey, using a range of methods, including an aerial survey, spotlighting at night in kayaks, and walking along riverbanks.

He said there was a chance the saltwater crocodiles found in Lake Mitchell and Two Mile Creek would eventually make their way into the Barron River.

“They can get in there (Barron River), it’s possible, ” he said.

“Crocs love to move around in the wet.

“Two Mile Creek floods very easily and a lot of those surrounding cane fields go under.”

The ABC has contacted Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science for comment.

– ABC / Kristy Sexton-McGrath and Renee Cluff

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