Locals fear rangers killed wrong crocodile
TWO crocodiles have been shot dead by rangers in a Cape York community, but locals claim one of the large reptiles was killed in a case of "mistaken identity"
A 4½m long saltwater crocodile was shot by wildlife officers and local rangers at Wujal Wujal last month after they sought to catch the animal responsible for taking three dogs from the Cape York township, 170km north of Cairns.
Environment Minister Steven Miles said several efforts were made to remove the predator by nonlethal means, which was hampered by challenges of the location and the behaviour of the crocodile.
"The decision to euthanase was made in consultation with the traditional owners on June 16," he said.
"However, during the operation to recover the carcass, wildlife officers were approached by a second large crocodile estimated to be 3½m in length.
"Due to the imminent risk to the safety of wildlife officers a decision was taken to euthanase the second animal."
A local source, however, said the first crocodile that was shot had been targeted accidentally by the rangers.
"It was 100 per cent a case of full-blown mistaken identity," the source said.
"Everyone loves the crocs here; they don't want to get rid of them."
When questioned further about the crocodiles' removal, Mr Miles said both reptiles had been displaying aggressive behaviour which warranted their removal and that the animal responsible for taking the dogs had been properly identified.
"EHP wildlife officers were able to confirm that the first crocodile removed had recently taken and eaten at least three dogs," he said.
Wujal Wujal Mayor Desmond Tayley said he would have preferred to have had the crocodiles removed unharmed from the community.
"We've had concerns here in the community, in terms of the crocs, which are a totem of some of the traditional owners," he said.
"So some people aren't too impressed that two crocs were shot."
He believed it would have taken several weeks to properly identify the crocodile responsible for taking the dogs, due to several crocs inhabiting the area.