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Crocodile shooting will cause 'dangerous' and 'increased' croc activity for years

ABC News logo ABC News 23/09/2017 By Chrissy Arthur
Croc shot in Fitzroy © Queensland Police service Croc shot in Fitzroy

A Central Queensland crocodile farmer has warned the death of a 5.2-metre salty in the Fitzroy River will mean "increased croc activity" in the system for the next two to three years.

Police have been investigating since the large crocodile was found with a single gunshot wound to the head earlier in the week near Alligator Creek, Rockhampton.

Forensic examinations are continuing and police are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

John Lever runs a crocodile farm near Rockhampton and said the removal of an alpha male will change the dynamics of the local population.

He said the incident should also serve as a "wake-up call" for people to be more aware of crocodiles.

"What happens is when you have an alpha male, he maintains control of all the other crocs and makes sure they don't step out of line," he said.

"Once he's gone all the young bucks line up to challenge each other — so there will be males having conflicts to try and win that territory and become the alpha male and you'll get the females that will be terribly confused because they won't know what male to go to.

"So there'll be a little bit of instability for a couple of seasons I'd say." Mr Lever said it is a natural process but the activity does not happen all year round.

"There's a bit of a scramble for the other males to become the alpha male.

They become quite dangerous at that stage because they're not behaving as a subordinate male, they all think they're boss," he said.

"It doesn't happen in winter, it's only from now — this time of the year. This is when it all happens.

"If we look at what's happening on our farm, we've got crocodiles mating there every day and that will be happening out in the wild as well — and with the absence of that alpha male, the young bucks won't have to look over their shoulder as much," he said.

Police are investigating the shooting death of the crocodile. © Provided by ABC News Police are investigating the shooting death of the crocodile.

Mr Lever said there is also "feeder system" in the Fitzroy.

"By removing this crocodile, it hasn't really removed the problem or the threat to people that people might have thought they'd done. All it's done is exacerbate a bit of an issue."

"What I think this has highlighted is that we don't know what is under the water out there and we've got to be particularly vigilant and aware that there could be other large crocs out there."

Mr Lever said crocs had different personalities and temperaments.

"This one [the 5.2-metre croc] being so big and not being a threat to anyone for so many years he was obviously a pleasant character, but you can get some crocs that are hopeless - they are aggressive, they are nasty," he said.

"So river users be a little more vigilant, be aware.

"Now that we have seen what can come out of the water in this area, I think it is a wake-up call to everyone to fine tune their senses about crocodiles and behave differently."

It is an offence under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 to take an estuarine crocodile without authority.

There are greater penalties in place for the unlawful killing of an "iconic" crocodile, which is defined as being 5 metres or more in length.

The maximum penalty for the unlawful killing of an iconic crocodile is more than $28,000.

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