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First crocodile of 2017 captured in NT

AAP logoAAP 4/01/2017 Lucy Hughes Jones

A 2.4m saltwater crocodile is the first predator to be captured in the Top End for 2017 as rangers warn Territorians to stay out of waterways this wet season.

The "healthy sized" saltie was pulled out of a trap downstream in Berry Springs overnight.

There was a big drop in crocodile captures and no fatal attacks during 2016, which rangers chalk up to two lousy wet seasons.

But they're still urging people to be wary of the deadly reptiles lurking in tropical waterways as heavy rainfall lashes the Top End.

"Saltwater crocodiles generally spend the wet season mating and then nesting; males are more mobile and the species are far more territorial at this time," said Tom Nichols, chief wildlife ranger at the Parks and Wildlife Commission NT.

"Keep in mind crocodiles are ambush predators - they will see you long before you will see them."

Salties can inhabit freshwater systems, billabongs and low areas subject to flooding including rivers, creeks and causeway crossings.

The largest one trapped in 2016 was a whopping 4.35m, which was caught after it killed cattle at Tipperary Station in the Douglas-Daly region.

Most national parks in the Top End are now closed due to croc safety and flooding concerns.

Croc numbers have exploded up to 100,000 in the Top End since they became a protected species in 1971, but rangers believe the population has now plateaued.

After the reptiles are captured they're delivered to local crocodile farms for breeding or are harvested for their skins.

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