Queensland police are investigating the death of a huge saltwater crocodile shot near the northern river city of Rockhampton.
The 5.2 metre (17ft) crocodile was found on the Fitzroy River, near Etna Creek, on Thursday by a member of the public who notified police.
Crocodiles are a protected species and it is illegal to kill them without permission in Australia and police and officers from Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection are now trying to track down the person responsible. The croc, which had a single gunshot to the head, will be examined by veterinarians today for clues.
The dead croc is 20cm longer that Rex, the giant 40-year-old reptile in captivity at the Sydney Aquarium, and is above average in size. The largest saltwater croc in captivity, Cassius, is 5.48m and is based in a zoo on Green Island, off the coast of Cairns.
But the death of the large crocodile has locals concerned that a turf war will begin among surviving crocodiles for the territory previously occupied by the giant animal.
DEHP conservation director Michael Joyce told Rockhampton’s Morning Bulletin that people should “expect increased aggressive activity by younger male crocodiles” as the compete to become the dominant male.
“We don’t know at this stage how long it will take for the balance of the population to be restored so my urgent message to everyone in the Rockhampton area is to be extremely careful,” he said.
Police say anyone with information about the dead crocodile should call Policelink on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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