Far Northern councils call for croc-free waterways
DRASTIC measures such as protective barriers and boosted lifeguard patrols are needed at popular Far Northern waterways to protect people from crocodiles, local councils have told the State Government.
Thirteen swimming spots between Cardwell and Freshwater should be classified "exclusion zones" under the Government’s new crocodile management plan, according to the Cairns and Cassowary Coast regional councils.
The classification would require new infrastructure or tough action to keep crocs out of habitats that are considered popular swimming areas for people.
Lake Placid and the Freshwater Creek swimming hole are among the popular spots flagged for the strict new protections in the Cairns local government area.
The council has recommended the Newman Government invest in "crocodile prevention barriers" to be placed in those waterways during the peak season, as well as lifeguards or rangers to monitor or inspect the sites.
The Cassowary Coast Regional Council said more money was needed for signs and monitoring at 11 of its swimming holes, which are used by thousands of locals and tourists a week.
Surf Life Saving Queensland said tougher controls at Lake Placid would see the return of one of the region’s best training grounds for local nippers.
"Lake Placid was a great place to train, but we stopped using it because of so many crocodile incidents in recent years," North Queensland branch manager Col Sparkes said.
And rafting operators, responsible for bringing up to 20,000 travellers to Lake Placid each year, said the exclusion zone would help put tourists at ease.
"Fear of crocodiles is not at the top of people’s priorities when they’re whitewater rafting, but we would definitely welcome tougher management of crocs in that area," Raging Thunder operations manager Chris Fulton said.
"We actually put a swimming ban in that water two years ago because of the number of croc sightings at the time."
The councils were also asked to identify "zero tolerance zones" where high public use or built-up infrastructure meant crocs should be removed regardless of whether they were deemed "of concern" or not.
Cairns’ northern beaches and all boat ramps in the region would be covered by that classification.
Problem crocs will continue to be trapped and removed from any body of water, regardless of its classification.
Environment Minister Andrew Powell wanted to have the plan completed by December, and $500,000 will be spent implementing it.
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Keep them away: Cairns and Cassowary Coast regional councils want all crocs removed from popular swimming areas.