Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon will convene a meeting in Cairns this Thursday to discuss crocodile safety in Queensland.
Additional funding of $4.175 million, over three years, for new initiatives will be announced and discussed. A range of delegates, representing croc experts, industries, Traditional Owners, conservation groups, rangers and elected representatives will attend. Community leaders from north Queensland will meet this week during Regional Parliament to discuss enhanced crocodile management and initiatives in Queensland.
Also to be announced at the meeting: an additional $4.175 million of funding over three years and then $300,000 per year ongoing to support further Crocwise initiatives.
The roundtable will discuss DES’ enhanced Crocwise Strategy, Crocodile Management Plan consultation, research and monitoring of estuarine crocodile numbers and behaviour, and future initiatives.
It builds on funding locked in by the government in last year’s budget, with the $12 million over four years and $3 million per annum ongoing for estuarine crocodile management, supporting DES’ 20 crocodile management officers, plus ongoing research and the Crocwise program.
Key new work from the funding will include:
- A Detect and Deter project to develop a device that can reliably detect estuarine crocodiles underwater (day or night) using multi-beam sonar and deep learning recognition artificial intelligence computer software
- Funding to deliver the new Crocwise Strategy including engaging communications and human behavioural change experts, working with First Nations people and organisations
- Partnering with local governments to trial and develop safe infrastructure design in public areas, including the installation of small-scale physical Crocwise barriers to prevent crocodile attacks at waterways in high-risk areas.
“In 2020, we established an independent expert committee to evaluate the crocodile management program in Queensland, including the results from the crocodile population monitoring program….The committee found the program to be best practice, and highly effective in reducing the risks to public safety while conserving crocodile populations in the wild…As part of this program, crocodiles that pose a threat to human safety are already targeted for removal by the department and its contractors…But of course, with recent interactions it’s important that we make sure that we continue to deliver the best program possible…The Queensland Government does not support the culling of crocodiles as an effective risk reduction measure…Attempting to remove all crocodiles from an area of crocodile habitat does not make that area safe, as crocodiles are a highly mobile species capable of travelling many kilometres in a day, and more crocodiles will continue to enter the area, without necessarily being seen….Additionally, culling crocodiles may create a false sense of security in the community when in crocodile habitat.”Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon
Further information about Queensland’s crocodile population:
- While Queensland’s crocodile population has recovered from near extinction in the 1970s when commercial hunting was banned, their overall distribution has not significantly changed, and there’s no evidence the population has expanded southwards.
- Very few river systems in Queensland approach the density seen in the Northern Territory, and around only 20 per cent of crocodiles are located along the coast between Cooktown and Rockhampton.
- The three-year Queensland Estuarine Crocodile Monitoring Program survey showed the average size of the animals has decreased.
- This is likely attributable to Queensland’s crocodile management program, where crocodiles assessed as posing a threat to public safety are removed from the wild – with more than 450 crocodiles having been removed from 2004 to 2019.
- In 2021, the department responded to 1,185 crocodile sighting reports and removed 52 problem crocodiles – most of these were placed with crocodile farms or zoos.
- In 2022, the department responded to 890 crocodile sighting reports and removed 57 problem crocodiles, again with most placed with crocodile farms and zoos.
- For 2023 to date, the department has responded to 452 crocodile sighting reports (as at 02/05/23) and removed 20 problem crocodiles, again with most placed with crocodile farms and zoos.