If you see a trap in the Mary River, don't touch it
PEOPLE who deliberately interfere with the operation of crocodile traps now face tough new penalties of up to more than $15,000.
Environment Minister Steven Miles said the crackdown was directed squarely at people climbing and jumping on traps or deliberately triggering them.
"People shouldn't need a tough fine to discourage them from frankly stupid and dangerous behaviour but there has been at least one recent instance when removal efforts of a problem crocodile took longer than necessary because a trap had been damaged," Mr Miles said.
"These traps are specifically designed to attract crocodiles and they are deployed in places where a problem crocodile is known to be present.
"I want people to be very clear that if you interfere with one of these traps you are not only putting yourself in danger, you are potentially increasing the length of time that a problem crocodile is present to pose a threat to other members of the public."
Mr Miles said wildlife officers were aware of a number of occasions recently where members of the public have been interfering with crocodile traps.
"The most serious incident was at the Ross and Locke Reserve on the Mulgrave River south of Cairns in July this year," Mr Miles said.
"A trap was so badly damaged it had to be removed for repairs and replaced with a second trap. That's an unacceptable waste of taxpayer-funded crocodile management resources and an unacceptable threat to human life."
Mr Miles said damaged traps could also compromise the safety of departmental staff and contractors, and potentially harm crocodiles that may be caught by the trap.
The new penalties, with a maximum fine of $15,138, are being introduced into the Nature Conservation (Estuarine Crocodile) Plan 2007 and the State Penalties Enforcement Regulation 2014.
Unless a person has a reasonable excuse, it will be an offence to interfere with a crocodile trap that is being used.
The new offence of interfering with a crocodile trap includes:
- releasing a crocodile caught in the trap;
- triggering or otherwise interfering with the operation of the trap;
- misusing the trap;
- moving the trap;
- climbing, standing or jumping on the trap;
- damaging destroying or modifying the trap; damaging destroying, defacing or modifying a sign attached to the trap.
Mr Miles said warning signs would be placed on crocodile traps to make it clear that interfering with the traps was against the law.