A major north Queensland tourist island is demanding compensation from the state government for dumping a croc on its beach.
The research program that unleashed the crocodile on Magnetic Island will be reconsidered, Premier Anna Bligh says.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the 3.5-metre reptile had been trapped near the Cape York community of Bamaga earlier this year and released more than 1,000km south near Townsville.
The move was part of satellite tracking program Crocs in Space which is researching crocodile behaviour.
The beast has since been spotted on Magnetic Island, just off Townsville, where beaches have been closed.
Ms Bligh said the relocation was “inappropriate” and she had asked Sustainability Minister Andrew McNamara to look into the research program.
“I’ve asked the minister for environment to have a really thorough examination of this research program to determine whether it still represents good value for money,” she told reporters in Cairns.
“Because, on the face of it, the decision to relocate this crocodile to the Townsville area is a very strange decision.”
However, she said the program had contributed to the knowledge of how to relocate crocodiles safely.
Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg said businesses which had suffered from the closure of beaches should be compensated.
“The people of Magnetic Island were very happy not to have a crocodile until Anna Bligh and her government gift-wrapped one and sent one to the people,” he said.
“The reality is this government has a responsibility to do something about the chaos which they themselves have caused.”
He said the “lunatic” program should be stopped immediately and berated Tourism Minister Desley Boyle who told parliament crocodiles were “drawcards for tourists”.
The EPA said it hoped a satellite fix on Thursday would determine the whereabouts of the crocodile.
“EPA is sympathetic to the Magnetic Island business operators and is endeavouring to catch the crocodile at the earliest opportunity,” said wildlife branch manager Mike Devery.
Townsville-based marine scientist Walter Starck accused the EPA of “criminal stupidity” in moving the beast and not notifying the public.
“If a private citizen were to do something like that, my God, they’d be subject to horrendous fines and penalties,” Dr Starck told AAP.
“There’s absolutely no scientific justification for it – we have hundreds of thousands of large crocodiles all across the top of Australia living in places where there are no people.”
Tourism operators on Magnetic Island will rally this weekend to demand compensation.