Huge crocodile trapped by wheelie bin barricade after appearing in Aussie backyard

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 January, 2017, 12:03pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 January, 2017, 12:03pm

Locals in a small north Queensland fishing town improvised with rubbish bins and hay bales to corral a 3.5m crocodile who wandered into their midst on New Year’s Eve.

The crocodile kept police and residents in Karumba, on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria, on high alert for most of Saturday until environment department officials arrived from Cairns, about 700km away, to capture and remove the reptile.

The male saltwater crocodile was discovered sunning itself in the backyard of a local house on Karumba’s waterfront Esplanade around 6am on Saturday, later moving to the property’s front gate.

Police and locals “initially orchestrated a line of wheelie bins in an attempt to funnel him back towards the water but it became clear he wasn’t keen to move”, police media said in a release.

A video uploaded to YouTube captured locals’ disappointment when the crocodile, after taking a few tentative steps in the direction of the shoreline, performed an about face to return to his post at the house’s front gate where he remained for the rest of the day.

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Officers then decided to surround the crocodile with hay bales to contain him until the wildlife officials arrived from Cairns. The animal was reportedly then hoisted by forklift into a boat as the new year countdown approached on Saturday night.

The reptile remains in a local holding facility, with the environment department trying to find it a new home, such as a crocodile farm, a spokeswoman said on Monday.

A local resident, Danielle Day, told the ABC the crocodile wandered into two accommodation complexes before settling in the residential backyard.

“We’ve been here for nearly 10 years and we’ve never seen that happen, like [a crocodile] come up on to the road and come up to where people stay,” she said.

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Karumba, on the banks of the Norman river with a population of about 500, is billed as a “fishing Mecca” and the inspiration for the Red Hot Chili Peppers song Animal Bar, named after the local pub.

The Karumba crocodile was one of almost 400 removed by wildlife officers in 2016 under Queensland’s largely non-lethal management plan for the protected animal.