A crocodile at Melaleuca Crocodile Farm, near Mareeba. Photo: Brian Cassey
A crocodile at Melaleuca Crocodile Farm, near Mareeba. Photo: Brian Cassey

‘Croc didn’t escape my farm’

A CROCODILE farmer believes a large croc that rangers are trying to catch near his farm may have originated from an outback river catchment, rather than escaping from his property.

Melaleuca Crocodile Farm owner Juergen Arnold has rejected suggestions that a 3.5m long saltwater crocodile found a few hundred metres from his farm is an escapee.

The croc, which is about 60km away from its traditional territory, has been targeted for removal by the Department of Environment and Science, which set a trap for it in Two Mile Creek on Wednesday.

A crocodile at the Melaleuca Crocodile Farm near Mareeba. PICTURE: BRIAN CASSEY
A crocodile at the Melaleuca Crocodile Farm near Mareeba. PICTURE: BRIAN CASSEY

It is largest of several crocs that have been reported in the creek in the past three years., including one that attacked a cane farm worker in 2017.

Mr Arnold, whose business is listed as being "permanently closed" after a Google search, assured the business was still operational, and the reptile had not escaped from the property.

"I can see how people may have thought it came from the farm, but that is definitely not the case," he said.

"If we lost a 3.5m croc, we would notice straight away."

He suggested the animal had found its way to the creek from the Mitchell River, which runs into crocodile territory in the Gulf of Carpentaria, about 750km away.

"For me, the most logical explanation is that it came from the north, from the Mitchell system or the Lake Mitchell," he said.

"There has always been reports in the past that people have seen crocs in Lake Mitchell."

Melaleuca Crocodile Farm was co-purchased by Mr Arnold about four years ago, and has become the final destination for many "problem" crocs caught across the Far North by DES wildlife officers.

Mr Arnold said he listed the business as being permanently closed on the search engine, as the farm had attracted too many unwelcome visitors.

"We always get people who want to come up for visits, like backpackers, thinking they can go in and visit the farm," he said.

"The farm is operating, but it is closed to the public."

DES was contacted for comment.

CHANGING RULES

In 2017, the State Government responded to the Mareeba community's concerns about crocodile safety by changing the Queensland Crocodile Management Plan to allow the targeting of all crocs for removal in certain Mareeba Shire Council areas. Saltwater crocodiles are still regarded as uncommon in the area.



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