UNKNOWN NUMBERS: Koorana’s John Lever, pictured feeding one of his crocodiles, agrees Queensland needs an updated study into crocodile populations.
UNKNOWN NUMBERS: Koorana’s John Lever, pictured feeding one of his crocodiles, agrees Queensland needs an updated study into crocodile populations. Rokcroc

Hatching a new croc plan

WE shouldn't remove crocodiles until we know how many we have in the state.

That's the message Professor Craig Franklin had for the Queensland Government during an interview with the ABC.

Prof Franklin, a lecturer at the University of Queensland, was a member of Campbell Newman's former government crocodile advisory panel.

"It is a threatened species, it's actually an obligation that we understand whether the population is increasing or decreasing or remaining the same, and at this stage we don't know," he said.

"The data that has been collected, especially over the past 10 years or so, is inconclusive and there isn't the scientific rigour in that data for us to draw any conclusions whatsoever."

Prof Franklin was critical of the current conservation management plan's need to remove large males, explaining that their removal will have an effect on crocodile populations.

He also had issue with the exclusion zones that have been implemented across the state, particularly Cairns, due to the inability to control the reptile's movements in crocodile-dense areas.

"Whether you like it or not, crocodiles will move up and down the coastline and on occasion enter waterways in the vicinity of Cairns.

"If we set up an exclusion zone then we are leading people into a false sense of security that it's okay now to go swimming in these waterways," he said.

Koorana Crocodile Farm owner John Lever agreed with the need for a comprehensive survey but disagreed with some of Prof Franklin's points.

"I don't think the croc population is endangered in Queensland," Mr Lever said.

"It is essential for crocs to be removed for public safety; it's not an issue at all to remove crocs. Most are males; when you remove one the next in line will step up. A large 4m croc will be a threat to humans," he said.

"I would like to see a proper survey to determine croc populations around Rockhampton's North".

Mr Lever agreed with Prof Franklin about exclusion zones lulling the public into complacency, and supported moves for continued crocodile awareness.

New Environment Minister Steven Miles also spoke to the ABC this week about the government's plans to review the current management plan.

"I travelled to Townsville early this week and will travel to Cairns next week specifically to talk to those local communities about the existing crocodile management plans.

"Those plans were put in place by the previous government and we went to the election committed to review those plans.

"What I want the review to look at is the criteria by which those decisions are made and whether that appropriately balances sustainability of the species with public safety."

He agreed a scientific survey could determine they were in appropriate numbers, or too high or too low.

"That is the purpose of the review."



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