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Croc threat overblown

Media Release: Crocodiles less threatening to human life than bees

crocodile_salt_water_crocodile_australia_reptile_wildlife_carnivore_croc_teeth-668715.jpg!d.jpgConservationists will today call on a Queensland parliamentary committee to reject legislation that would reintroduce mass slaughter of wild crocodiles in the state.

The Queensland Parliament’s Innovation, Tourism Development and Environment Committee will hold public hearings on the Safer Waterways Bill at Mackay today.

Mackay Conservation Group coordinator, Peter McCallum, said that crocodiles do pose a threat to human life but the risk has been overblown.

Last year, Bob Katter, a federal MP, claimed that a person was killed by a crocodile every three months in North Queensland.

Conservationists have disputed that claim.

“Since 1985 there have been 11 fatal crocodile attacks in Queensland. That’s about one every three years,” Mr McCallum said.

“By comparison one Australian dies from complications of bee sting every six months.”

“It’s easy to drum up fear, even when the threat is minimal.”

“Mackay Conservation Group will be calling on the committee to reject fearmongering and rely on the clear scientific evidence when making its recommendation on the proposed law.”

From the 1940s to 1970s crocodiles were killed in large numbers, mostly by hunters hoping to cash in on high international prices for crocodile skin.

Saltwater crocodiles were pushed towards extinction in Australia until Queensland reluctantly enacted legislation to ban wild crocodile killing in 1974.

As late as 1988, saltwater crocodiles were listed as endangered.

Since then crocodile numbers have recovered to the point that they are no longer considered vulnerable to extinction.

On average 8 Queenslanders die each year in boating accidents.

Salties threatened by proposed Katter legislation

Crocodiles are an iconic species of Northern Australia. They were almost hunted to extinction during the mid twentieth century but in 1974 legislation protected all crocodiles from unlicensed killing. 

A bill has been introduced to the Queensland parliament by Katter Party MP, Shane Knuth, that would permit crocodile hunting, egg collection, removal and relocation to crocodile reserves. The Safer Waterways Bill is based on the false premise that there is a significant problem of crocodile attack in Queensland. The explanatory notes to the bill provide a thorough summary of the intentions of the proposed legislation.

The ABC recently undertook a fact check of Bob Katter's claim that a person is killed by a crocodile every three months in North Queensland. They found his claim to be false. Since 1985 there has been one fatal attack by a crocodile every three years. Meanwhile, in the 2007-2016 period there were on average 8.5 people killed in boating incidents in Queensland, a far more dangerous activity it seems. 

The Queensland parliament's Innovation, Tourism Development and Environment Committee is currently seeking submissions on the Safer Waterways Bill 2018. You can help maintain the current protections for crocodiles by making a submission before 4pm on 31 May 2018 asking the committee to*:

  • reject the entire Safer Waterways Bill 2018
  • call on the Queensland Government to commit to rigorous community consultation with all First Nations Peoples regarding Crocodile Management
  • ensure there is increase employment and training of ‘Indigenous Ranger and Protected Area’ programs
  • call on the Queensland Government to explore nature-based tourism ventures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, First Nations Peoples communities
  • require further crocodile surveys to gain accurate scientific data on crocodile populations and crocodile egg health.
  • require research investment into possible changes in crocodile egg mortality and survival rates to sexual maturity
  • ensure there is no interference with crocodile populations through culling, removal or egg-harvesting be permitted unless conducted by authorised officers for essential public safety management, approved scientific research
  • ensure there is well resourced "Be Croc-Wise" education campaign in Queensland

To be valid your submission must include your name and two of the three below:

  • mailing address
  • email address
  • daytime phone number 

Address your submission to

The Secretary
Innovation, Tourism Development and Environment Committee
Ph: 3553 6662 Fax: 3553 6699
Email: [email protected]

*Thanks to Michael McCabe of Capricorn Conservation Council for these points