‘There's a threat’: Experts explain spike in croc encounters
SWOLLEN rivers, warmer weather and population increase is contributing to "record" interactions between humans and saltwater crocs across the Far North as rangers reach out to the public about what can be done to reduce the risk of a estuarine crocodile attack.
In late January a croc was removed from the Russell River system near Bramston Beach and last weekend a couple of anglers at Cardwell had a front-row seat to a saltie feasting on small sharks discarded on the beach.
Program co-ordinator for northern wildlife operations with the Department of Environment and Science Dr Matthew Brien, said crocodiles being on the move at this time of year in part explained a spike in activity.
"Crocodiles being reptiles, they are endothermic or what some people call cold-blooded. They rely on the environment to regulate their body temperature and at this time of year it is warmer so they're more active, burning more fuel, searching for more food," he said.
"Also, with the floodwaters they have access to more areas - they can move in and out." Dr Brien said the department is removing "record numbers of crocodiles" around Cairns as numbers bounce back from hunting being outlawed in Queensland in 1971.
"Numbers have increased over the last few decades and management efforts have increased to match that, we are currently removing record numbers of crocodiles in and around urban areas such as Cairns," he said. "We haven't had an increase in fatalities in the last 10 years but we have seen an increase in non-fatal attacks involving smaller crocs.
"It's important to understand crocs are returning to the areas they once occupied and there is a threat at this time of year with floodwaters and groundwater, they go to areas adjacent to rivers and creeks, so people need to stay out of floodwaters for their own safety. "Stay out of the water, acknowledge the signs and respect the fact it is just not safe to go in the water."
In total 63 croc sightings north of Cardwell have been reported through the DES online portal in the past six weeks.
Members of the public are encouraged to report crocodile sightings as soon as possible, by calling 1300 130 372 or by using the new Qwildlife app.
Originally published as 'There is a threat': Experts explain spike in croc encounters