NORTHERN TERRITORY: Hunters keen to put a Northern Territory crocodile head on their mantelpiece may soon be in with a shot, with the federal government agreeing to rethink a ban on killing the reptiles.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Paul Henderson welcomed the move by federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to let the public comment on a plan to allow hunters to kill up to 50 crocodiles each year.
Mr Henderson said he was very hopeful that after the comment period ends on July 25, a two-year hunt will be allowed to proceed.
The 50 crocodiles hunted will be taken from the quota of 500 adult crocodiles already allowed to be killed each year under a management plan.
The Northern Territory had been battling the federal government for many years on the issue, Mr Henderson told journalists.
“Those 50 trophies will certainly have exponential value in the international marketplace in terms of promoting tourism here in the territory,” he said.
“Come to the territory and bag a croc,” Mr Henderson said.
He did not specify how much he thought a hunter would have to pay to participate in a hunt, if it was ultimately allowed.
Wildlife campaigner Bob Irwin recently said his famous son Steve Irwin would be turning in his grave to think wild crocodiles could be killed by safari hunters.
“Can you imagine a boatload of tourists seeing some big white hunter shooting an animal that they came to photograph?” Mr Irwin told ABC radio.
Grahame Webb who runs the Crocodylus Park in Darwin, which houses crocodiles for tourists to see, said anything that added to crocodiles’ value added to the incentives to conserve the creatures.
“At the moment we kill crocodiles in the wild so that someone can own a handbag,” Professor Webb said.
“There is nothing different in killing a crocodile in the wild so someone can own a trophy.”
Mr Burke said he wanted to hear the different views of traditional owners during the consultation process.
The Northern Land Council, which helps traditional owners manage their lands, said some were in favour of the hunt while others attached totemic significance to crocodiles and would not participate.
Michael Kennedy from the Humane Society International said once the information was in a draft plan it was likely the hunt would go ahead.
“Previously it has always been stopped dead and knocked back as a management plan,” Mr Kennedy said.
“This is the first time a minister has given it real air space.”