Crocodile Management Plans—Under review
Currently in Queensland, crocodiles are managed according to their location, behaviour and size, with four main geographic approaches in place – pilot Crocodile Management Plans, Crocodile Urban Management Areas, automatic removal of all crocodiles south of the Boyne River at Gladstone and the removal of ‘crocodiles of concern’ elsewhere in Queensland.
The Crocodile Management Plans for Townsville, Cassowary Coast and Hinchinbrook expired in January 2016, and the Cairns plan expired in June 2016. Crocodile Urban Management Areas remain in place in Mackay, Rockhampton and Gladstone. The management arrangements for these plans and areas have been extended while a broader review into crocodile management is in progress.
The Crocodile Management Plans are available below:
- Cairns Crocodile Management Plan.
- Cassowary Coast Crocodile Management Plan.
- Hinchinbrook Crocodile Management Plan.
- Townsville Crocodile Management Plan.
On 15 April 2016, the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) extended the Rockhampton Crocodile Urban Management Area from the Fitzroy River Barrage to Long Island, following consultation with Fitzroy River recreational users regarding the need for improved safety in this high-use area of the river. From now on, any crocodile reported in that area over two metres long will be targeted for removal by EHP.
Information on the existing Crocodile Urban Management Areas (CUMAs), including the revised Rockhampton CUMA, are available.
Crocodile Management Review
The Queensland Government is committed to developing a crocodile management program that delivers appropriate protection of public safety while enabling the ongoing survival of crocodiles in the wild. The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) is currently reviewing its crocodile management program to develop a world’s best practice approach based on sound scientific evidence as well as the need to protect communities in crocodile country.
A key component of the review is consultation with stakeholders and the community to find out what they think about crocodiles and the way they are being managed. Comments from the general public have been invited by way of an online survey to gauge opinion on topics relating to crocodiles and their management, public safety, capture and removal, and the welfare and conservation of crocodiles. The survey closed on 30 June 2016 and received 1,962 responses which are currently being analysed.
An initial round of targeted, face-to-face consultation was also undertaken in June 2016 with stakeholder groups including local governments, conservation groups, key industry sectors, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service within the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing and Surf Life Saving Queensland.
More information is also needed on the current size and distribution of the crocodile population in Queensland and the implications of crocodile removal along the populated east coast of Queensland. To provide updated and accurate scientific data, EHP has commenced work on a comprehensive surveying program covering rivers and estuaries from the Gulf through Cape York and down to Gladstone on the east coast as the cornerstone of its review into crocodile management in Queensland. This work will be undertaken over a three-five year period and will be guided by advice from some of the leading crocodile scientists in the world.
A crocodile science program of this nature will provide the data necessary for Queensland crocodile management to transition to a world’s best practice, evidence-based approach that will allow for the communities competing expectations to be balanced in a more transparent way.
The data that is collected will involve the inventory of crocodile populations across Queensland and the assessment of the impact of removal of crocodiles in urban areas on both crocodile populations and human safety. Crocodile survey work will be conducted throughout rivers and estuaries at night time, and at particular tide phases corresponding with the best times to see crocodiles.
It is also important to remember that it is not feasible to keep built-up areas completely crocodile-free. Therefore, providing public education on ‘Croc-wise’ behaviour–to promote safety in crocodile habitat–will continue to be a key element of EHP’s revised management approach. As such, EHP is working with social scientists on improvement of the ‘Croc-wise’ education program so that there is an evidence base for both major components of crocodile management – managing crocodiles and managing people in crocodile country.
Management of crocodiles is not simply a short-term strategy. Crocodiles are going to be living in close proximity to humans for the foreseeable future. Therefore, an evidence-based approach to management and continuous improvement of policies and strategies will be required to ensure the survival of both crocodiles and people in crocodile country.
The Queensland Government’s approach to crocodile management over the coming years will be built on state-of-the art scientific monitoring and survey work, an evidence-based crocodile policy and management framework, a well-equipped, capable team of wildlife officers, as well as sound consideration of community expectations.