Crocodiles with taste for Territory beef dragged from station dam

Crocodiles with taste for Territory beef dragged from station dam

Crocodiles with taste for Territory beef dragged from station dam

Updated 8 February 2018, 22:50 AEDT

Crocodile catchers are being kept busy this Top End wet season, with big salties moving into places they've never been seen before, and snapping up cattle while they are there.

Crocodile catchers are being kept busy this Top End wet season, with big Territory salties moving into places they've never been seen before, and snapping up cattle while they are there.

Two large saltwater crocodiles, dubbed Gobbo and Croco, were recently dragged from a dam on Annaburroo Station, and measured 4.3 metres and 4.4 metres, respectively.

"With the first lot of rain this dam filled up and within five hours there were these two big crocodiles," crocodile catcher Roger Matthews told the NT Country Hour.

The station, which backs onto the Mary River, was having problems with local crocs developing a taste for Territory beef.

"One cow had been killed and they found the body of the cow and realised 'there's something in [the water] because it's fresh'," Mr Matthews said.

"It's pretty amazing how quickly these crocodiles move into a water course.

"We just use these big treble hooks and throw them across and if there's a crocodile in there it doesn't penetrate the skin but it annoys.

"It comes out thrashing it's head side-to-side and we put a noose over its top jaw and drag it in."

It's not the first time the station has had trouble, with the station reporting in January last year it had lost more than 100 cattle to crocodiles and spent $100,000 to manage the problem.

Mr Matthews said large saltwater crocodiles couldn't be released back into the wild and rather they needed to find another private home, or be turned into trophy leather.

Once Gobbo and Croco were caught, they were loaded live onto the back of a trailer and taken to be killed and skinned.

"In our business we sell heads and skins," Mr Matthews said.

"We catch more crocodiles than probably people that want them, so that's how we make our money is the head and skin trade — and the animal is utilised."

'They're on the move and there are a lot more'

The crocodile catcher says the population is soaring, with wildlife authorities catching 370 crocodiles last year in the wild compared to the average of 280 per year.

"It shows they're on the move and there are a lot more. We find them in places they never were before," Mr Matthews said.

"They're notorious for travelling across land and they seem to know where all these dams are even if there's no creeks attached to them.

"The bigger guys mate, they can move anywhere and it's a real wake up call for all our people in the Northern Territory: stay away from water courses because what might've had nothing in it for years, with all the rain we've had, there could be a potential crocodile anywhere.

"All the kids playing in drains and things, keep out of it. If you see your mates playing in them, tell them to get out of it."

Saltwater crocodiles were listed as protected in 1971 after almost being hunted to extinction.

But since then their numbers have exploded and it's estimated there could be up to 200,000 in the wild, which nears the Territory's human population of 250,000 people.