Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 13th, 2009
Australian media, via many sources, is reporting that a 12 feet (4 m) long “out-of-place” saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) has been killed, due to fear it would attack humans.
On April 9th, the Australian government began warning of a large croc on the move. “This is the first time a saltwater crocodile has been seen around Coral Bay in a long time and it is important people be careful on the beach,” a spokesman said.
Finally, however, warnings were not enough. The elusive crocodile was shot dead by wildlife officers after it spooked a popular holiday spot in Western Australia’s northwest for almost a week.
A spokeswoman for the West Australian Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) said the saltwater croc was killed with a single gunshot on Sunday, April 12, 2009.
Wildlife officers had tracked the croc since last Tuesday when it was spotted for the first time near Coral Bay, about 1200km north of Perth, Australia.
It was seen again on Wednesday afternoon but managed to elude wildlife officers until located by a spotter plane at 3.30pm (WST) on April 12, at Gnaraloo Bay.
Attempts to pinpoint the croc failed, and by the morning of April 12th, it had travelled about 20km north to Cape Farquhar, a DEC spokeswoman said.
The croc was about 20 metres offshore – it had been shadowing the coastline each time it was sighted.
DEC officers tracked it to the lagoon at Warroora Station but lost sight of it again at noon (WST) on Sunday, when the spotter plane was forced to return to base to refuel.
The croc appeared again about 2.30pm (WST) and wildlife officers tracked it by air and boat along the coast.
Then at 5pm (WST) it was spotted again and a single gunshot caused almost instant death, the spokeswoman said.
DEC Exmouth district manager Ray Dejong said earlier it had been difficult to keep tabs on the crocodile because it spent little time on the surface.
The DEC had warned visitors to the Ningaloo Marine Park to stay out of the water and keep away from the water’s edge while the crocodile was at large.
Crocodiles are not usually seen as far south as Coral Bay, where tourists flock to enjoy camping and fishing along the Ningaloo Reef.
They are typically found only as far south as Onslow, more than 200km north of Coral Bay.
Saltwater crocodiles live in coastal rivers and swamps, and can occur in the open sea and around islands. They also extend well inland along major rivers, floodplain billabongs and into freshwater rivers, creeks and swamps.
Saltwater and freshwater crocodiles are protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1954 and may not be killed or taken from the wild without a licence.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Australia, Australian police found the remains of a 20-year-old man taken by a crocodile while swimming at night in the Daly River south of the community of Darwin on Friday, April 10. A croc said to be responsible was killed.
American crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus) are a different species and not as aggressive as the Australian variety. However, recent media coverage in the USA has discussed the increase in dog disappearances which appears related to more crocs in human areas.
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