Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Queensland man fights to keep pet croc

A proserpine man may lose his pet crocodile of almost 50 years after advising authorities of change of ownership

Legal stoush looms over pet croc

Tracey Ferrier
December 22, 2010 - 2:49PM


    A north Queensland man is braced for a legal battle to keep a beloved pet croc that's been part of his family for almost 50 years.

    John Casey, 49, was just two years old when Charlie joined the family as a six-inch hatchling after her mother was shot by a hunter in 1963.

    His late father Alf lovingly hand reared the estuarine croc, taking her for walks in the north Queensland town of Proserpine, down the pub for a beer, to school fetes and even a ball.

    "My father used to just let her walk in front of him down the street," Mr Casey told AAP on Wednesday.

    "She's been in just about every pub from Rocky to Cairns. We've got photos of her propped up at a bar in Proserpine when she was about seven feet long."

    These days the now three-metre croc is confined to a specially designed pen next to Mr Casey's Proserpine home.

    But he fears she'll be taken away after the state government issued him with a long list of demands if he wants to keep Charlie at home.

    Mr Casey says he was trying to do the right thing when he applied to have his father's permit to keep Charlie transferred into his name after his recent death.

    But he says the government only issued him with a temporary, 12-month permit and Charlie will be relocated unless he meets an onerous set of demands.

    He insists there's no way Charlie can get out of her existing enclosure, which is three metres high, enclosed in reinforced mesh and surrounded by concrete walls to ensure she can't dig her way out.

    "That pen was made to a plan supplied by parks and wildlife," he said. "There was never a problem before, but suddenly there's one now."

    He says the government seems to be concerned about a caravan park situated next to his home, about 50 metres from Charlie's pen.

    "But the caravan park was built in 1985 and the pen was built in 1987. Now it's a problem?"

    Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones says she feels for Mr Casey but he must address legitimate safety concerns.

    "That's why he's been granted a 12-month permit to keep Charlie but with conditions related to public safety and the crocodile's welfare," she said in a statement.

    Mr Casey must show that there's a proper enclosure, that he has the capacity to catch Charlie if she gets out, and is properly looking after her health.

    If that happens, authorities will consider renewing his permit when it expires in October next year, Ms Jones said.

    But Mr Casey says the timeframe for some of the conditions will expire in just a few weeks and he's engaged a lawyer to take the matter to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

    "One of the silly things they want me to do is put signs up all around that say 'Danger Crocodiles Keep Out'. Anyone in that caravan park is just going to say 'oh there's a croc, let's go and have a look'."

    Mr Casey fears his beloved, "docile" Charlie will end up at a crocodile farm.

    "She's always had an enclosure of her own," he said. "If they try to put her in with another croc, she'll either kill or be killed.

    "I feed her, I look after her water, I look after everything in her pen. She comes when I call her name and I can actually pat her. It'll be devastating if she's taken away."


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