Indigenous leaders blast ALP's refusal to cull crocs as 'dangerous'
The Queensland government’s new crocodile management policy has been criticised by indigenous leaders, with some advocating a cull of the reptiles and others calling for more consultation.
Environment Minister Steven Miles yesterday said “no credible voice” supported a cull, as he announced six redrawn zones for dealing with crocodiles.
However, Cape York Aboriginal leader Gerhardt Pearson labelled Labor’s refusal to cull “a gutless, stupid and dangerous decision” on Twitter, while federal north Queensland MP Bob Katter pushed for the legalisation of indigenous-run safaris where tourists could shoot the reptiles.
Traditional owner Dion Creek, founder of Kalan Enterprises which manages more than one million hectares on Cape York, said he had noticed crocodile numbers increasing on the peninsula in recent decades.
“I am very concerned, we’ve seen the numbers increase, and I am too afraid to let my kids and nephews swim in the rivers we used to swim in as kids,” he said.
Cape York is classified as “Zone E,” or the monitoring and education zone under the plan, which means crocodiles that show “dangerous behaviour” are targeted for removal. In other areas of the state, such as Barron River in Cairns, rangers attempt to move all crocodiles, regardless of their size and behaviour, to farms or zoos.
Mr Creek backed the government’s plan to run a comprehensive survey of crocodile numbers, beginning in April, but said he was disappointed that he and his organisation had not been consulted about the looming work on their land.
Dr Miles said the survey was aimed at discovering by how much the crocodile population had increased since hunting was banned in the 1970s.
“Since the end of hunting, the crocodile population has recovered, but what we don’t know is to what extent and whether the numbers are still increasing, or whether it’s just the size of the crocodiles increasing and we’re getting more sightings of larger crocodiles,” he said.
Opposition spokesman on the environment Christian Rowan said Labor was not doing enough to deal with problem crocodiles but admitted the LNP had not yet come up with its “full policy” on the issue.
A spokesman for Queensland’s Environment Department said some consultation had been done with indigenous rangers at Mapoon, on the northern tip of the Cape, before the trial survey in November.
Credit: The Australian