Palaszczuk invests $5.8 mil in croc count

An estuarine or “saltwater” crocodile. Credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons

The Palaszczuk Government has pledged $5.8 million dollars to conduct the biggest comprehensive crocodile monitoring program in state history.

Andrew Sands

The jobs of 10 wildlife officers across the state have been also been secured with the funds as the state government seeks to survey the waterways from Cape York to Gladstone for at least three years in order to gain a better understanding of crocodile populations in the state.

In a bid to update the state’s current data from as far back as the 1970s, the program will compare new data and work to ensure public safety and the survival of the species.

Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles said he was excited to welcome members of the team to the program, a part of the Queensland Government’s crocodile management review, which will be led by crocodile expert and the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) Principle Wildlife Officer Dr Matt Brien.

“Dr Brien is currently undertaking the preliminary work so that the planned crocodile population survey is based on rigorous science,” Dr Miles said.

“Assisting Dr Brien is Dr Laurie Taplin who has agreed to come on board as a specialist advisor, bringing an invaluable historical perspective on Queensland’s crocodile population.”

Dr Miles said that a process of consultation is underway with large groups in order to gauge their attitudes towards topics such as capture and removal, the welfare and conservation of crocodiles and public safety.

“EHP officers will be on the ground in Cairns next week [from Monday 27 June] to conduct a series of consultation meetings with key organisations including Cairns Regional Council, Tourism Tropical North Queensland, the Queensland Crocodile Conservation and Protection Society, Surf Life Saving Queensland, and Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures,” he said.

“An important part of the Queensland Government’s crocodile management review is to establish what’s working and what can be improved and that’s why it’s important to seek the views of the community”.

Four of the ten appointed wildlife officers will be based in Cairns, two in Central Queensland and others based in areas such as Innisfail and Townsville.

Dr Brien said that the work of counting crocodiles would be done at night and during particular phases of the tides when it’s most easy to spot the creatures.

“It’s very important that we establish a rigorous method which can be applied throughout north and central Queensland where crocodiles occur,” he said.