Conservationist Bob Irwin has slammed “idiot” social media users recklessly entering crocodile habitats for content as he calls on the Queensland government to outlaw the behaviour.
The father of the late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin is pushing to close a legal loophole that currently stops authorities from prosecuting selfie-takers over the dangerous act.
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Irwin has engaged the Environmental Defenders Office to draw up the amendments to the Nature Conservation Act.
The proposed changes would create an offence for those who recklessly use a crocodile habitat, along with penalties for people who disturb crocs for social media content.
It follows a spate of recent attacks and incidents in northern Queensland including one where a man was attacked and his dog killed by a crocodile while swimming in croc water despite warnings of the reptiles in the area.
A fishing influencer also came under fire in January over filming himself jumping into the croc-infested waters of the Tulley River.
The Department of Environment and Science slammed the “posts and boasts”, saying it has had enough.
“Most people in Croc Country know how to be croc wise and when everyone is doing the right thing it puts those few people who do the wrong thing at greater risk,” a spokesperson said earlier.
“When people do stuff like this they’re … putting their own lives at risk.”
The advice in croc areas is to stay out of the water and keep at least five metres from the edge to be safe.
Irwin is concerned the incidents are not only putting those involved at risk but posing a danger to otherwise healthy crocodiles, which can be killed if it is deemed a problem after an attack.
“The government says idiots like these are not breaking any laws. Well, I say, change the law,” he said.
Discussing the proposed changes on Seven’s The Latest, experienced political campaigner Dee Madigan joked the incidents were “natural selection at work” among social media influencers.
“I feel like if you’re an influencer and you think it’s a really good idea to get a selfie with a croc, you go right for it,” she said on Thursday.
Author and journalist Caroline Overington added she was surprised by how “cavalier” locals were towards crocodiles when she visited the Kimberley last year, saying locals know the risks and respect their territory.
More than 40 traditional owners, conservationists, scientists, business owners and community members have backed Irwin’s proposed changes.
Traditional owner Kathleen Walker is among those and says the actions of reckless people were tarnishing the reputation of otherwise safe communities.
“We support the Environmental Defenders Office’s recommendations in the name of creating greater protection for our totem animal, the saltwater crocodile, when human error is involved,” the Wujal Wujal woman said.
“We would like to see a no-tolerance approach to members of the public who take the risk in crocodile territory and for greater mitigation measures to be legislated.”
– With AAP
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