Why academic has called for caution in croc country
AS experts continue to debate the number of salties inhabiting Tablelands waterways, an academic has asked those calling for the creatures to be removed to remember they "live in the crocodile's habitat".
James Cook University lecturer Claire Brennan said the steady climb in crocodile numbers and sprawling settlement in the Far North were putting more people in the path of the reptiles.
"Crocodiles were targeted during the post-war period for their skins but since protection came though in the 1970s the population has gone back to pre-hunting sizes," Dr Brennan said.
"What's changed in Northern Australia is the number of people living in traditional crocodile habitats.
"People move to the Far North and expect to live in the suburbs - expecting that suburban standard of living - but this is still a frontier and we have to get used to living in crocodile country. People have to get used to being cautious when they live in crocodile country."
Dr Brennan, who teaches history and has long researched trends in crocodile hunting, said the cull that happened after World War II temporarily removed the threat and gave those living in the Far North at the time a false sense of security.
"The Far North was connected to the rest of Australia by WWII and at the end of the conflict there was an abundance of rifles that could kill crocodiles and demand for skins internationally because the traditional supply had been cut," she said.
"There were also men that didn't want to go back to the suburbs after serving as soldiers, they wanted to live an adventurous life on the frontier and crocodile hunting gave them something to do.
"It was a perfect storm because the technology was there, the men were there and the demand was there."
Originally published as 'Still a frontier:' Why academic has called for caution in croc country