WILDLIFE and marine park rangers north of Gympie set baited traps to catch a large crocodile spotted and photographed on the banks of the Mary River on Tuesday.
The 3.5m saltwater crocodile was reported to the Environment and Heritage Protection Department by a commercial fisherman about 2km from the Beaver Rock boat ramp, halfway between Maryborough and River Heads.
Under Queensland's crocodile management policy, any crocodile caught south of the Boyne River near Gladstone is targeted by rangers for removal and relocation to a crocodile farm or zoo.
For decades there have been regular anecdotal reports of crocodiles in the Great Sandy Strait as far south as Kauri Creek and in the Mary River as far south as Tiaro and Fisherman's Pocket, but this is the first confirmed sighting.
EHP Minister Andrew Powell said the area where the croc was seen was well upstream from where anyone was likely to go swimming, but was used for fishing, catching prawns and pumping worms and yabbies.
"Although this is a rare sighting of a saltwater crocodile this far south, people need to be sensible and stay away from the area," he said.
A 2010 survey examined 48 rivers and found no evidence of crocs between the Fitzroy River to the north and Maryborough. But fishermen have long said otherwise.
In 2009, rangers set traps in the Sandy Strait after a number of crocodile sightings were reported.
Environmental Protection Agency staff maintained 24-hour patrols there for weeks but nothing was ever trapped or found.
Rangers will now monitor the Mary River trap on an ongoing basis and crocodile sighting signs will remain in place at the Beavers Rock boat ramp.
Crocodiles are a native animal and protected in Queensland. The accepted habitat range of the estuarine crocodile in Queensland extends from Torres Strait to the Boyne River.
BE CROC WISE
- Do not approach crocodiles and stay well away from crocodile slides
- Never feed, provoke, harass or interfere with a crocodile
- Keep a good lookout at all times
- Obey crocodile warning signs
- Avoid entering the water. When fishing stand at least a few metres back from the water's edge
- Never clean fish or discard fish or food scraps near the water's edge, campsites or boat ramps
- Camp at least 50m from the water's edge