THE killing of a 5.2 metre crocodile in the Fitzroy River has prompted an urgent warning for members of the public to be vigilant and to exercise Crocwise behaviour.
Department of Environment and Heritage Protection Conservation and Biodiversity Operations Director Michael Joyce said the crocodile was found today near Alligator Creek with a single gunshot wound to the head.
"People need to clearly understand that the death of this animal has changed the balance of the crocodile population in the Fitzroy and we can expect increased aggressive activity by younger male crocodiles," Mr Joyce said.
"That's because they will be competing to take the dominant position which is now vacant.
"I cannot stress strongly enough the need for all river users to be aware of the risks and to be Crocwise."
Mr Joyce said wildlife officers would be actively monitoring the crocodile activity in the Fitzroy and promoting the Queensland Government's Crocwise safety messages at every opportunity over coming days and weeks.
"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 and to report all crocodile sightings as soon as possible on 1300 130 372," he said.
"Prompt reports are of great assistance to wildlife officers in their efforts to manage crocodiles, so don't delay if you see a crocodile."
Mr Joyce said the crocodile appeared to have died sometime in the past 48 hours.
The carcass has been removed as evidence and will be forensically examined by Queensland Police.
It is an offence under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 to take an estuarine crocodile without authority and there are greater penalties in place for the unlawful take of an 'iconic' crocodile, defined as 5 metres or greater in length.
The maximum penalty for the unlawful take of an 'iconic' crocodile is $28,383.75.
Mr Joyce said the dead crocodile was not believed to be the same animal which is currently targeted for removal approximately three kilometres upstream of Pink Lily Sands.
"Wildlife officers are continuing their efforts to remove that crocodile and a floating trap remains in place," he added.
"If this iconic crocodile had been reported to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection wildlife officers would have immediately taken steps to remove it, in accordance with the Queensland Crocodile Management Plan."
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