Member for Dalrymple Shane Knuth has reinforced Bob Katter’s call for an immediate but controlled crocodile cull in north Queensland after a family pet was killed on the weekend in the latest spate of attacks.
Melissa Horton’s family dog Rusty, a one-year-old purebred kelpie, was taken by a croc at the family property at Belvedere, just five kilometres north of Innisfail.
“This image is confronting and frankly heartbreaking for residents who are imagining that dog could have been their beloved pet, or much worse, their child,” Mr Knuth said.
The incident comes just weeks after a horror weekend of crocodile attacks, when a teenager was bitten on the arm in the Johnstone River in Innisfail, and a spearfisherman was killed in a suspected croc attack south of Cairns in mid March.
“Attacks are on the rise, the crocs we’re seeing are big, aggressive and territorial, and crocs are surfacing in places they’ve never been before,” Mr Knuth said.
“People are petrified to get out and enjoy the waterways, even in safe areas, with membership dropping in water sport clubs and iconic events cancelled due to croc sightings.
“Reports show seven beaches have been closed due to croc sightings in the past three months.”
On a recent flight, Mr Knuth said he saw several crocodiles, one as long as 5.5 metres, just below the Burdekin Falls Dam.
He said the recent high rainfall and flooding across the state could lead to even more croc activity and attacks in the near future.
Mr Knuth said failing to take action puts at risk Queensland’s $11 billion tourism industry.
“More than 22 million visitors come to Queensland each year and contribute billions to the state’s economy.
“People come to Queensland to enjoy sunshine and beaches, but the image they’re seeing now is croc attacks and croc signs everywhere; this is a very poor message to promote to international tourism.”
The KAP will draft legislation to allow for a controlled cull in populated areas across Queensland.
Mr Knuth said the animals could be culled or relocated to a crocodile farm, and safari hunting and egg collection initiatives could be set up to create jobs for Indigenous rangers.
Egg collection could also keep an extra few hundred thousand dollars in the Queensland economy that would otherwise be spent interstate.
“Commercial croc farms cannot source eggs from the wild for their breeding programs, meaning some Queensland farms buy their eggs from the NT Government, spending as much as $250,000 a year,” Mr Knuth said.
“It’s time to bring back the balance and prioritise human safety over crocs.”