A cane harvesting contractor had to prise open the jaws of a salt water crocodile with a large spanner to remove the hand of a worker who attempted to move the 1.4 metre reptile from a cane paddock.
The attack occurred Sunday at a Peters Road farm, three kilometres from the Mareeba CBD when company work place safety officer Daryl Bell was called by a harvesting machine operator to capture the croc and tape its jaws before removing it.
The injured animal “latched onto my hand puncturing my thumb and fingers and it would not let go,” Mr Bell said.
“The operator grabbed the tail and I grabbed the jaws but its skin started to peel off, I lost my grip and it grabbed my hand.
“Its teeth went right through my thumb nail and a finger.
“I felt sorry for the croc because it had been burnt and I had no intention of hurting it.”
Mr Bell was taken to Mareeba Hospital to get treatment and was released after his hand had been bandaged and treated to prevent infection.
Owner of Harvest Mareeba, Bruce Craven said he prised open the animal’s jaws to remove Mr Bell’s hand.
Threats of prosecution made by Environment and Heritage Protection officers to local farmers should they interfere with crocodiles, led Mr Craven to contact the department in Cairns for advice about the injured reptile.
He said it took more than two hours to get an officer on the phone.
“They told us to take it to a vet who then euthanized it,” he said.
Mr Craven said the croc had been burnt the previous day in a cane fire and was not discovered until the machine operator saw it while he was harvesting standing cane.
“Having crocodiles in a cane paddock places my men in a dangerous situation and this croc should not have been in the cane.
“They are not supposed to be on the Tablelands,” Mr Craven said.
“Children ride bikes along this road next to the irrigation channel where the crocs live.
“The EHP has been contacted in the past about removing crocs from this area but they refuse to do anything about the danger.”
Julatten cane harvesting contractor Gordon Rasmussen, the Katters Australian Party candidate for Cook, was at the scene and was critical of the State Government for “dragging its feet”, trying to prevent the KAP’s ‘Safe Waterways’ legislation from being introduced into Parliament before the upcoming election.
“Shane Knuth (Member for Dalrymple) has the bill ready to go so we can do something about controlling the explosion of crocs in the Mareeba area and throughout the north,” Mr Rasmussen said.
“There should be no salt water crocodiles on the Tablelands and here we have a serious incident that has been reported to the Workplace Health and Safety Department by medical authorities because this was a work place accident.
“The State Government seems quite happy for farmers to be attacked by crocs and I can understand why farmers are reluctant to remove dangerous crocs because the Environment Department will chase them through the courts for a $25,000 fine.
“Mr Knuth said he will try to have the bill debated and passed in August.
“We have to do something now.”
Katters Australia Party will be conducting a series of public meetings beginning Wednesday April 12, at Mareeba, Innisfail and Port Douglas to gauge support for crocodile egg removal and safari hunting legislation to be introduced into the Queensland parliament.
Further meetings will be held at Mossman and Innisfail where salt water crocodiles have attacked humans or animals and menaced tourists over the past few months.
Where: Mareeba Bowls Club, Anzac Avenue at 1.30 to 2.30pm, Wednesday April 12.
Innisfail Senior Citizens Hall, Owen St, Innisfail, 5.30 to 7.30pm, Wednesday April 12
Port Douglas Community Hall, Thursday, 9.30 to 11.30am, Thursday April 13
Bob Katter, Robbie Katter Member for Mt Isa and Shane Knuth Member for Dalrymple will be in attendance.
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.”
Katter snaps on Cape Trib croc attack: “time for croc shooting safaris”
31 May 2016: KAP Member for Kennedy has “snapped” at Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch’s response to the Cape Tribulation crocodile attack in which a tourist was eaten. Mr Katter has long called for crocodile culls in Far North Qld and believes crocodile hunting safaris could be a solution:
“Where there is water, human beings will go near or in it. I can’t believe that Warren Entsch is attacking the people over this. Defending crocodiles instead of people is stupid.
“And I’d like to get Mr Entsch to swear on the bible that he hasn’t been in a river or creek in North Queensland. The crocs would take one look at him and they’d be licking their lips.
“We should have professional shooting and hunting safaris working now. Human beings have been hunters for three and a half million years. And you may not like it, but that’s how we got here as human beings.
Mr Katter believes numbers of crocodiles have reached unprecedented levels,
“The numbers of crocodiles have exploded. All of crocodile’s predators have been removed. Nature has a balance and the balance is completely out of whack. Goannas, dingos, humans, there are numerous other predators for the eggs and for the crocodiles themselves. For example, gropers ate all the small crocodiles, but now, there are so many big crocodiles that there are no gropers.
“We can put nature back in balance if we have shooting safaris.”
Far North Queensland inhabitants have long called for a crocodile cull before any more lives are taken. The federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter, an advocate of salt water crocodile culling said that their numbers had reached unprecedented, epidemic levels.
It has become unsafe for Cape York’s 5000 Aborigines to enter any water for fishing or swimming. In the Torres Strait many inhabitants regularly dive along the coastline capturing lobsters, turtle and dugong.
They have reported a large increase in crocodile numbers at their favourite diving locations and are waiting helplessly for an attack to occur.
In the Bloomfield River 100 klm north of Cairns fishermen report that it is impossible to set any crab pots because the large number of crocs destroy them within hours.
One fisherman, ‘Gobbler’ said he had recently returned from a Bloomfield River fishing trip but was “really worried about the large crocs that now follow boats.”
He said boat ramps too are dangerous for fishermen because the crocs lie in waiting for a boat to be launched.
“One large croc followed my boat for a long way when I was checking the pots and any wrong move with the boat could be fatal because they are not afraid of people,” Gobbler said.
“One is five metres long and aggressive, another is 4m, and two others we saw are 3.5m long, and all are potential man-eaters and all were close to Bloomfield (settlement).
“There are far too many and there should be a cull throughout the north right now before there are more people killed.”
The folly of very expensive croc relocation
It took 400 kilometres and just under a month for a Queensland research team to realise that relocating far north Queensland problem crocodiles was never going to be an option.
Several years ago UQ School of Biological Sciences Professor Craig Franklin and his team translocated three saltwater crocodiles from a remote section of Wenlock River in the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve on the west coast of Cape York to various remote locations along the west coast.
Tiny Tim, a male crocodile involved in Professor Franklin’s latest research, detected on Thursday, September 10, 2015, north of Weipa. Photo: Supplied
The aim was to to track their movements and determine if relocation would be a good management strategy for crocodiles who continuously come into contact with humans or livestock.
Two of the crocodiles were released up to 80 kilometres away, along the west coast of Cape York, with one carried via helicopter 400 kilometres to a remote beach on the east coast of Cape York.
This crocodile, which weighed about 350 kilograms and measured 4.5 metres, shocked Professor Franklin’s team at the time by swimming over 400 kilometres around the tip of Cape York in less than 20 days to return home.
A relocated 350kg crocodile swam 400km to get home. Photo: Terry Trewin
This feat not only destroyed any notion of relocating problem crocodiles found in far north Queensland, it also proved, for the first time, that crocodiles use currents to travel long distances, Professor Franklin said.
“When we translocated it from the west coast of Cape York to the East Coast, it didn’t go straight back home, it waited around for several months,” he said.
“It was the first time anyone had shown that crocodiles use currents to travel.
“If they are travelling long distances in river systems they will use tidal movement in and out of the river to facilitate their travel.”
Unfortunately this has meant other more invasive methods have been put in place to manage problem crocodiles.
“If there is a problem animal likely to impact humans or livestock, then the government’s Department of Environment makes all attempts to try and catch that animal and then place it into a farm or zoo; try to find some place that will take it,” Professor Franklin said.
“If they are unable to capture it, they are able to make the decisions to shoot the animal, but they try not to do that.
“In terms of the population, it makes very little difference whether the animal is moved or shot, because its ability to reproduce (in the wild) has been lost.
Professor Franklin’s team has been tagging and tracking crocodiles ever since in a bid to better understand these apex predators.
Muzzle your pig dogs!
Pig hunters beware, muzzle your dogs, because animals have been given more rights in law than those of humans.
The Liberal Party Queensland Government has buckled to the insane drivel of the RSPCA by legislating fines of $220,000 and three years jail if your pig dog “inhumanely” bites a pig when being caught.
What penalty the dog receives has not yet been dreamt up. When feral pigs attack and eat calves while being born, or they uproot and munch upon thousands of bird, turtle and crocodile eggs, or they dig up hundreds of banana suckers overnight don’t let your dogs loose or turn up with your rifle.
You most likely will not kill the pig with a clean single shot and that is an offence. That is if you have a rifle.
The Liberals traditionally hate guns and have made Labor’s original and widely criticised gun laws read like the sporting pages of your local paper.
Rangers disarm because chopper shooting of mobs of marauding pigs is now illegal.
Just like Imelda Marcos’ shoes, the Liberals, in concert with their running mates Labor, have a law for every occasion placing the nanny state on steroids for every petty bureaucrat right up to the police to fine you every time you turn around.
So much for the Liberal’s red tape removal!
Cape Alumina project scrapped
In another cynical, self-preservation announcement the government stopped the proposed Cape Alumina bauxite project dead in its tracks this week after the (Steve) Irwin family pressured the Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney to halt the $1 billion development on environmental grounds.
Although Cape Alumina had no intention of mining anywhere near the Wenlock river which flows through Bertiehaugh pastoral holding held by the Irwins, 200 klms north east of Weipa, Newman could see the positive environmental spin it would generate for the LNP amongst the Brisbane chardonnay set at the next election.
Cairns News has no doubt the Irwins’ will be campaigning for the LNP in the south east corner come next election, mooted in August.
The wider collateral damage has not yet been evaluated however the decision will directly cut 1700 jobs, further entrench the reliance of local indigenous groups on the welfare sponge and set back the Cape York economy many years.
In yet another blow to the Far North, Rio Tinto at Weipa yesterday announced it was placing its $1b South of Embley expansion on the back burner for a further 12 months.
In today’s Cairns Post, Warren Entsch, the Liberal Member for Leichardt which takes in Cape York Peninsula, launched a scathing attack on the State Government for shutting down mining on the Peninsula.
Entsch attacked the Irwin’s for having prior knowledge of the government’s rebuke and for campaigning against the project which was in place before they were gifted the $6.3m Bertiehaugh station by the former Federal Labor Government.
“Terry and Bindi Irwin had enough notice to travel to Brisbane so they could stand beside Campbell Newman for the announcement,” an angry Warren Entsch said.
He said he was shocked there had been no consultation with himself, the Mapoon Shire Council, Cook Shire Council or Cape Alumina itself.
Mr Entsch said this decision sends a very bad message about development in Queensland.
CMC Committee sacked
The wheels are starting to come off the LNP Government wagon after this week’s desperate manoeuvres by Premier Campbell Newman to gain control of the anti-crime watchdog, the Crime and Misconduct Commission.
The Parliamentary CMC watchdog committee was sacked by the Attorney General Jerrod Bleije after its Chairman, Independent MP Elizabeth Cunningham criticised its interim chairman, Ken Levy allegedly for making a false statement before the committee.
Amid much public controversy, a new committee was appointed yesterday with a majority of government members.