Is culling really the answer to stopping croc attacks? 12

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You would have heard about the latest crocodile attack in far north Queensland — a woman from New South Wales is missing presumed dead and her friend is recovering in hospital from injuries.

The search for 46-year-old Cindy Waldron continued on Tuesday, May 31 after authorities scoured the Thornton Beach area in the Daintree National Park following the attack on Sunday, May 29.

While it prompted a reminder for locals and tourists alike to be more vigilant in and around known crocodile habitats, Bob Katter has reignited calls for a crocodile cull in far north Queensland saying crocodile numbers are “out of control”.

His comments were in response to fellow MP Warren Entsch who blamed “human stupidity” for the attack. However, Katter — who has been a north Queensland resident for 70-odd years — says that where there is water there will be people, either near it or on it and they shouldn’t be prevented for enjoying their leisure activities out of fear of being eaten.

The Waldron case eerily echoes that of Beryl Wruck in 1985, who was taken by a 5m crocodile after fatefully deciding to take a dip in the shallows of Barrett Creek late at night and after she had been drinking with friends.

Crocodile attacks in far north Queensland are not one-offs. The attack on Waldron was the second crocodile attack in May, following the drowning of 72-year-old Noel Ramage. In April, Peter Rowsell was lucky to escape after he and his family were attacked by a crocodile as they camped.

There have been several fatal attacks in north Queensland since Wruck.

In 2009 a five-year-old boy was snapped up by a 4.3m croc from the swamp behind his home while trying to save his puppy from a croc known as ‘Goldie’; 62-year-old Arthur Booker is believed to have been taken by a croc while checking crab pots near the Endeavour River in 2008; Townsville man Barry Jefferies was pulled from his canoe by a 4m croc as he paddled on the Normanby River in 2005; in 1993 Casey Bond was taken by a crocodile in front of his wife and children near the Jardine River ferry crossing, and in a cruel twist of fate it was in a similar location that Bond’s father-in-law was also nabbed by a croc in 1980; and in 1986 Katie McQuarrie was last seen in the jaws of a 5.5m crocodile after she left her broken down dinghy.

According to the Department of Environment and Heritage CrocWatch between January and May 2016 there have been:

  • 2 current crocodiles of concern
  • 52 resolved crocodiles of concern responses
  • 4 crocodiles targeted for removal
  • 16 confirmed crocodile sightings
  • 120 unconfirmed crocodile reports.

Those are noteworthy figures, and you could be forgiven for thinking there has been a surge in crocodile attacks since widespread culling was outlawed in 1971.

Katter says it’s time to start controlling the numbers of crocodiles.

“There is no balance now. All of the crocodile predators have been removed so the number have exploded. A crocodile mother, she has 50 to 80 eggs she lays every year or so,” the Federal member for Kennedy told the ABC.

His calls have the support of Queensland’s Cook MP Billy Gordon, who looked into crocodile movements before entering parliament and believes it’s time to review a “controlled crocodile cull”.

“We obviously need to make sure the signage and awareness campaign is working. But there also needs to be a look at the behaviour of crocs and particularly how they are mapping out their territory,” Gordon told The Australian.

Federal environment minister Greg Hunt also supports Katter’s position, saying “Human safety has to be paramount and so we give authority to Queensland to do that.”

One of the world’s leading authorities on crocodiles, professor Graham Webb rejected Katters claim that croc numbers were out of control and told ABC radio crocs would have to be culled by 95 per cent to make it safer for people to go into the water.

“To make it safe to go back in the water, you’d really have to reduce the population back to where it was pre-protection levels,” Webb says.

Do you think there is any merit in culling crocodile numbers to protect the human population? What are your thoughts on this issue?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. here we go again, something gets in the way of humans and it has to go. Reminds of the shark cull in WA.
    People, if you don’t want to get eaten STAY OUT OF THE WAY! If you don’t heed the warning signs then you deserve it.

  2. If the numbers were more than what the land area can sustain may be ok, still I would not recommend safari style shooting. If people read the sings posted and still take risk sadly they have themselves to blame, it’s the same scenario like road usage, and we know all know quite well what happens when people discard the safety rules.

  3. Definitely not. People should be aware of the environment, there are many signs and plenty of information. Safari style shooting is not the way to go.

  4. More animals to pay the price of human stupidity. As Kiwi visitors to the Daintree a few years ago, we took note of the signs and respected the rights of the crocodiles. Leave them alone.

  5. Leave the animals alone in their own environment.

  6. exactly Marilyn, its like sharks in the ocean and dingo’s on fraser island, they were there first. humans invade their territory they will do what comes naturally ( cept in the case of dingoes where humans have taught them that we mean food .

    1 REPLY
    • A bit scary when they over populate, as they will, in time. What then, man would be no match for hords of hungry crocs .

  7. Dumb, tipsy humans’ will always be stupid.
    Going into croc living areas at 10:00PM. Pfffft!

    Leave the animals’ alone, in THEIR natural habitats’, & ‘cull the humans’ would be a better idea, so to speak!

    How many more signs have to be erected to STOP idiots from their own downfall?

  8. Definitely NO Culling. Tragic, but so stupid. Read the Signs. They say “Beware of Crocodiles”. Unbelievable reaction to this.

  9. [email protected]

    The original inhabitants of this land would cull and keep the balance of nature…..because if the numbers frow too large they will starve themselves out of existence..culling is humane and necesary. Also more education for people who visit the area where these predators live……wading at twilight? really?

  10. I am one who has always been against animal cruelty, it breaks my heart but what is the point to having these beautiful beaches if one cant enjoy them for the worry of being eaten alive. Dont go any where near water in QLD, if you do then be it on your own head. I say cull them, they are killers that would think nothing of killing your child or any one. Think how you would feel if it happened to you and yes it happenes often.

    1 REPLY
    • [email protected]

      MY dear girl if you can read then don’t go near the water,i am sure there are enough signs to warn you,and as a previous person has said that time at night you are asking for trouble as night time is their feeding time. Just like the ocean when it has a grey look then sharks are about. Me if they don’t drive on my roads then i won’t go in their water.

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