Environment Minister Steven Miles has announced tough new penalties will be introduced for people who interfere with crocodile traps.
Speaking at the launch of a custom-built croc survey boat in Cairns, Mr Miles said he had instructed the Environment Department to introduce a new offence aimed at people who damage or tamper with traps.
“There have been too many reports of people wilfully interfering with croc traps,” Mr Miles said.
“Only last week, a trap near a popular spot on the Ross and Locke Reserve on the Mulgrave River south of Cairns was tampered with.
“It was so badly damaged it had to be removed for repairs and replaced with a second trap.”
Mr Miles said the trap was originally put in place to capture a two-metre problem croc that was first spotted in April.
“Instead, its removal was not possible and last Thursday the crocodile had to be euthanised by wildlife officers,” Mr Miles said.
“Unfortunately as was expected, the crocodile sank immediately and the carcass was unable to be retrieved from the bottom of the river – meaning it could surface in the Mulgrave River at any time over the coming days.
“These traps are specifically designed to attract crocodiles and obviously pose a clear danger to anyone foolish enough to go near them, let alone try and trigger them.
“As a deterrent, I have directed the department to work to introduce new penalties and place warning signs on crocodile traps as soon as possible to make clear that this behaviour will not be tolerated.”
Mr Miles said the measures were part of the Palaszczuk Government’s $5.8 million crocodile management program which includes a three-year population survey and monitoring program which is currently underway.
“This new vessel, named Ganyarra, will be based in Cairns and will have a vital role to play as the crocodile survey teams turn their attention to the Gulf and Cape York Peninsula in coming months,” Mr Miles said.
“Its launch today brings the number of boats in our crocodile management fleet to eight.”
The boat is a 4.6 metre V-nosed punt which has been specially designed to meet the challenges of the myriad of small and sometimes shallow streams of far north Queensland.
Ganyarra is the word for ‘crocodile’ in the traditional language of the Yirrganydji people, Traditional Owners of the Cairns to Port Douglas coastal region.
Mr Miles said the specialist wildlife teams had completed their sweep of the populated east coast in 2017 in the first leg of the three-year crocodile survey, with the Proserpine and Fitzroy rivers the most recent to be monitored.
“Since the survey work began in April 2017, three-person vessel-based teams of croc catchers have also surveyed waterways between Giru and Cooktown, including the Barron, Russell, Daintree and Endeavour rivers,” Mr Miles said.
“They are preparing to head to the Gulf and Cape York Peninsula in coming months with Ganyarra ready to join the effort after successfully completing its sea trials.”
Mr Miles said the surveys were part of a three-year monitoring program.
“The environment department will issue a report card at the end of the year detailing which rivers and waterways have been surveyed but we need the data from the full three years to get a complete understanding of croc trends.
“The results will be used to guide future crocodile management in Queensland.”
All crocodile sightings should be reported to EHP immediately on 1300 130 372. The department investigates all crocodile reports it receives.