Infamous Kowanyama crocodile ‘humanely killed’ despite potential icon status

A crocodile that put a small Cape York community in the media spotlight has been killed by Queensland Parks and Wildlife (QPWS) rangers, despite its status as a potentially iconic animal.

Last month, children swimming in Magnificent Creek near Kowanyama were forced to climb a tree when they were approached by what was described in police reports as a 5m crocodile.

News of their rescue made headlines in Australia and even the UK.

Kowanyama County Aboriginal Council Mayor Robbie Sands said the crocodile continued to display aggressive behavior, prompting him to call in experts.

“It left quite a noticeable slip mark on the road and brought it to the attention of all of our residents,” Mr Sands said.

“That’s what prompted me to ask the national parks to ask for help in removing the crocodile.”

Humanely euthanized animal

Under Queensland’s Conservation Act, saltwater crocodiles over 4 meters in length are considered an iconic animal.

When iconic animals are removed from populated areas, they are usually trapped and transferred to a registered crocodile farm or zoo, to be used to educate the public about the conservation of the species.

Iconic crocodiles removed from Queensland’s waterways are usually, under state law, taken to a registered farm or zoo and used for educational purposes.(ABC Radio Darwin: Jesse Thompson)

Mr Sands said QPWS rangers spent five nights in Kowanyama inspecting the area and identifying the crocodile he had requested removed.

“The size estimated by the national park guys was 3.5 meters or maybe more,” he said.

In a statement to the ABC, the Department of Environment and Science said the crocodile located was 3.5 meters long.

“Due to the size of the crocodile and its close proximity to the city, adjacent to recreation areas, it posed a high risk to community safety,” the statement said.

“The animal was declared a problem crocodile and, as there was no other option to safely remove the animal, it was humanely euthanized in situ.”

The department did not respond to further questions from the ABC regarding the recovery of the animal’s carcass or its potential status as an iconic crocodile.

Crocodile removal brings relief

Mr Sands said the rangers who came to Kowanyama to remove the crocodile were met with great enthusiasm.

“When the team arrived, there was so much excitement that everyone wanted to see them go and catch the croc, it scared the croc because of all the noise,” he said.

“That’s why it took them so long to identify the crocodile and get rid of it.

Calm waters reflect the sky and treeline surrounding Magnificent Creek as flying foxes soar overhead.
Crocodiles are a regular sight at Magnificent Creek, which runs behind Kowanyama Township, Western Cape York.(ABC Far North: Mark Rigby)

Mr Sands said the Kowanyama Indigenous Warden Group would work closely with QPWS rangers to monitor Magnificent Creek over the next 12 months.

“There is this potential for another dominant male to enter the waterways surrounding our community,” he said.

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