Professor Grahame Webb, one of the world’s leading crocodile experts, says new practices need to be used to eradicate salties from Darwin Harbour, including shooting them if necessary
Professor Grahame Webb, one of the world’s leading crocodile experts, says new practices need to be used to eradicate salties from Darwin Harbour, including shooting them if necessary

Harbour croc cull call shot down by critics

EXPERTS, politicians and even fishos have delivered a biting rebuke to calls from a top croc scientist to eradicate saltwater crocodiles from Darwin Harbour.

The provocative comments from Professor Grahame Webb, one of the world's leading crocodile conservation experts, proposed shooting salties to expedite their removal from the harbour.

Eminent Top End croc conservationist Dr Adam Britton says making crocs extinct in Darwin Harbour was impossible
Eminent Top End croc conservationist Dr Adam Britton says making crocs extinct in Darwin Harbour was impossible


Eminent Top End croc conservationist Dr Adam Britton said making crocs extinct in Darwin Harbour was impossible.

"The objective has never been to make crocodiles extinct in Darwin Harbour because you can't do it - they just swim back in from around the coast or from the Tiwis," Dr Britton said.

"That's why there's a need for an institutionalised program - it's a continual process of reducing risk and making the place safer. No matter how you remove crocodiles, no matter how many you remove, you're still going to have to continue to remove crocodiles."

Shooting crocodiles, Prof Webb said, is justified because the "goal (of crocodile management) is a public safety goal not an exercise in catching crocodiles."

To that end, Professor Webb contended the Territory could adopt alternative management practices like those in Florida, USA, where 6000 'problem alligators' are removed a year via baited hooks and summary execution.

 

 

 

Tuesday’s NT News front page
Tuesday’s NT News front page

 

Dr Britton, who is also a senior research associate at Charles Darwin University, said he was sceptical such a system would prove effective.

"If there's a better way of doing it we've yet to find it, but I can't see how a Florida-style lottery system or using baited hooks is going to work," he said.

And while agreeing with Professor Webb that the "goal is to prevent attacks," Dr Britton said it would be prudent to direct the most attention to proven crocodile danger spots.

"The Darwin Harbour situation doesn't seem to be the highest priority given its track record and when there are other, far riskier scenarios playing out in communities, on rivers and at popular fishing and recreational spots," he said.

Amateur Fisherman's Association of the Northern Territory president Warren de With said he was intrigued by the crocodile tag system used in Florida, but said calls to eradicate crocodiles from the harbour went too far.

"We're passed that nowadays … they belong in the ecosystem and they're a part of the way the balance of everything is.

"It's part of the dangers you take into account when you go fishing or outdoors. You've got to respect and plan and make sure you do the right thing when you go outdoors.

"There haven't yet been instances I've heard in Darwin Harbour where people have had an interaction with a problem croc."

Department of Tourism and Culture Top End Region District Manager Lincoln Wilson said shooting was impractical due to safety concerns for other harbour users.

"Trapping, then culling, ensures a safer and more humane removal of crocodiles as shooting a free swimming crocodile in the harbour could result in a serious injury to the animal without any guarantee of a follow-up shot," he said.



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