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article imageBig game hunters could soon be bagging crocs in Australia

By Karen Graham     Jul 15, 2015 in Environment
Australia's iconic saltwater crocodiles have enjoyed protected status for 40 years, and the population of "salties" has grown prodigiously because of this safety net. But it's possibly this all could change, if Nigel Scullion has his way.
Australia's federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion has been pushing for a change in the ban on hunting the big predators, giving hunting permits to indigenous communities to sell to hunters.
On June 23, ABC radio’s AM program said the permits could be worth anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 each, and the Northern Territories government, along with Scullion, wants to give out 20 to 600 permits a year to indigenous communities to "cull problem crocs." This would supposedly inject at least $500,000 into the remote communities.
This saltwater crocodile  over 15 feet long  was causing problems in an area about 150 miles southwe...
This saltwater crocodile, over 15 feet long, was causing problems in an area about 150 miles southwest of Darwin. The saltwater crocodile was captured in a billabong near a river reserve. It was well known for intimidating locals, especially children, preventing them from crossing a road to get to school.
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Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles says he thinks the croc safaris will "get off the ground," even though the idea of hunting the crocs has met with resistance from Tony Abbott before. Around 600 crocodiles are shot every year in the NT, but they are problem crocs. Trophy hunting is banned.
Mr. Giles said crocodile hunting was "not necessarily something" he was interested in doing. "But I know that as an industry there is an opportunity there, and there are many Territorians that would like to get involved in that process," he said.
The hunting permit question is still a viable deal, even though Abbott has been against it, and the Commonwealth and NT are locked in negotiations over some sort of environmental deal. The deal is expected to be worked out over the next couple months, and then, the Northwest Territory will be able to issue hunting permits as part of its crocodile management plan.
As Scullion told ABC's Radio AM, “This is about science. There’s no difference from crocodiles and flathead, obviously apart from size and teeth. Why would you not have safari hunting as a part of an existing management regime?”
AM is also reporting the reason why the hunting permits came to be put back on the agenda. It had to do with federal Environmental Minister Greg Hunt's ban on importing loin's heads as trophies.
The saltwater crocodile, Crocodylus porosus, is the largest of all living reptiles. It is also the largest terrestrial (or land), and riparian predator in the world. Male salties can reach over 20-feet in length, and weigh up to 3,000 pounds while females average 9.8 feet.
The saltwater crocodile is a formidable and opportunistic apex ambush-predator, capable of taking on almost any animal that enters its territory, including fish, crustaceans, reptiles, birds, mammals and, of course, humans. It is estimated that the saltwater crocodile population in Australia is around 150,000 to 200,000.
More about saltwater crocodiles, Indigenous people, Northern territory, tony abbott, hunting permits
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