Crocs now too close for comfort
THE State Government's response to Queensland's crocodile population is a non-alarmist "move along, nothing to see here".
In contrast, Mayor of Hinchinbrook Shire Council Ramon Jayo says there's "plenty to see" and what's more, he warns that the living dinosaurs have moved in and made themselves at home close to human habitats.
He says he's scared for the safety of his ratepayers and their families.
Cr Jayo photographed a large estuarine crocodile from his tractor cab on his Macknade cane farm last week. During this year's flooding, a croc made itself at home not far from his kitchen window.
"It is clear to us local people that crocodile numbers are expanding," Cr Jayo said.
"We know they are in the mangroves. We know they are in their traditional areas. We respect that, but we also know they are in non-traditional areas.
"They are in our swimming holes. You can't swim in any of the freshwater swimming holes anymore."
Crocs south of the Boyne River
A map showing confirmed and reported sightings of crocodiles south of their accepted range.
The State Government's Stage 1 result for what will be a three-year survey showed a spike in the number of crocodile sightings, jumping to 684 in 2017 compared with 378 in 2016 and just 176 in 2010.
Cr Jayo said crocodiles were "coming to where we live".
He said farmers were now coming across crocodiles in their cane paddocks.
"We build on-farm ponds to trap sediment in order to protect the Great Barrier Reef. The crocs move into the sediment ponds. You only have to dig a hole and a croc will move in," he said.
Cr Jayo said crocodiles had "moved into town" and that one had to be trapped that was in Palm Creek next to the Ingham State High School.
Cr Jayo said he was not proposing a cull. Instead the government should look at egg harvesting licences in order to better manage the population of the animals.
"I feel my ratepayers are at risk. The State Government has to do something," he said. "The crocodiles are coming to us. We aren't going to them."
The Katter's Australian Party has built its party's political platform around the need for a crocodile cull. The party has more or less labelled the first instalment of the State Government's first crocodile survey in 10 years, a "crock".
KAP's Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said the latest government report into crocodile numbers only served to reaffirm KAP's call for "better legislation" surrounding crocodile management.
He said a plan to supply surf lifesaving clubs with croc spotting drones was reactionary.
"The State Government seems to be clutching at straws to ensure public safety by providing Surf Life Saving Queensland with new drone technology in a bid to solve this major safety issue," Mr Dametto said. "My understanding of workplace health and safety regulation has taught me that when it comes to risk assessment, eliminating the risk should be the preferred option."
KAP's Hill MP Shane Knuth's response to the survey findings was to call for the State Government to "get real" on crocodile management.
"The Government is reluctant to make the tough decisions because keeping southern votes is more important to them than protecting the life and livelihood of North Queenslanders," he said.
Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the overall aim of the crocodile monitoring program was to determine the size, distributions and densities of estuarine crocodile population more than 2000km of waterways.
The update, released last week, covered 2000km of waterways during 2017, the first year of the three-year crocodile monitoring program.