Animals

‘Herbie’ the dangerous 4-metre crocodile captured by Queensland wildlife officers | Queensland

A nearly 4-metre crocodile which has been “stalking” animals and people in Queensland for almost a month has been captured by wildlife officers.

The crocodile, which some locals nicknamed “Herbie”, lingered around Herbert River stalking domestic and farmed animals, making it a “dangerous animal”, Tony Frisby, a senior wildlife officer said.

“Thankfully the property owner reported the animal.”

The reptile was captured in a trap on the banks of a private property on the Herbert River in Cordelia on Sunday. Separately, a 3-meter crocodile was also caught in a trap in the Ross River, Townsville, less than two hours south.

Lawrence Perticato, whose home in Cordelia backs on to the Herbert River and who reported the crocodile to authorities, told the ABC the crocodile “started to come for us”.

“I’ve lived on the river all my life and have become accustomed to crocodiles, and I know when there’s a dangerous one,” he said, adding the crocodile had eaten three of his neighbor’s chickens. “With this guy stalking us the way he has been, it’s become very concerning.”

But operations manager at Australia Reptile Park, Billy Collett, said he would never refer to a crocodile “stalking” people.

“It’s just doing what it is supposed to do. It sees potential for a kill, a feed, and does what he is programmed to do,” he said.

“Yes they are dangerous, and they can be aggressive, but it is completely natural behavior.”

He urged locals to take notice of the crocodile warning signs that litter “the entirety of northern Australia”.

Collett advised against keeping animals like chickens near the water’s edge in the area.

When a crocodile is reported, the Department of Environment, Science and Innovation observes its behavior before removing it from the wild.

For Herbie, they used a gated trap on the riverbank.

The Ross River crocodile had also been “hanging around the weir for several weeks”, Frisby said. “It was targeted for removal from the wild due to its behavior and the risk it posed to public safety.”

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The two reptiles are being moved to crocodile farms or zoos, but Frisby warns that although the crocodiles have been removed, the Herbert and Ross River are not necessarily safer.

“The Townsville region is croc country, and people should [be] ‘croc-wise’, by making sensible choices around waterways and avoiding complacency,” Frisby said.

Separately, a third crocodile was spotted snapping up a rare pomarine jaeger bird on Pelican Island. There are few recorded sightings of arctic, migratory birds on the Great Barrier Reef’s islands.

Rangers conducting bird surveys on the island, 15km from the north Queensland coast, “captured the brutality of nature” as a 2-metre estuarine crocodile emerged from the ocean to grab a pomarine jaeger, according to a statement from Desi.

They had completed a lap of the island, recording the numbers and species of birds, when they saw the crocodile in the shallows, Lee Hess, a senior ranger said.

“We were lucky enough to take photos and videos of the crocodile as it crawled from the ocean, but what we didn’t know was that it set its sights on the bird,” he said. “The bird wasn’t looking at the ocean and the crocodile simply grabbed it then headed back to the water.”

Hess said the pomarine jaeger was the only one of its species on the island.

“I’m not sure if it had ever seen a crocodile before and wasn’t attuned to the danger,” Hess said. “We believe it is the first recorded meeting between an estuarine crocodile and a pomarine jaeger, and unfortunately it was a long way to fly to end up like this.”

It is unclear whether the crocodile has taken up residence on the island. The department noted that reptiles “can be highly mobile animals capable of swimming up to 50 kilometers in a day,” particularly during warmer months.

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