Four men who swam inside a baited croc trap not far from the scene of a fatal attack are contenders for the “idiots of the century award”, a Queensland mayor says.
Photos have surfaced of the men swimming around the trap and then sitting inside it, behind a trap door designed to slam shut if a croc takes the bait.
The photos were taken at the Port Douglas Marina, not far from where disoriented dementia sufferer Anne Cameron, 79, was taken by a 4.3-metre croc less than two weeks ago.
The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is investigating and the men could each face fines of $15,000 if convicted of tampering with the trap.
The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is set to investigate the men who took this picture after getting inside a crocodile trap.Stacy W Clayton/Facebook
One Facebook user, Stacy W Clayton, shared the photos on October 20, with the message: “Only way t (sic) check a croc trap to ensure the live bait stays alive.” It’s unclear if he was one of the men.
Douglas Shire Mayor Julie Leu says she’s stunned by the stupidity of the four, and the council didn’t yet know if they were tourists or locals.
“That’s exactly where you might find a crocodile because that’s were the bait is,” she told AAP on Tuesday.
“These fellows are vying for the idiots of the century award.”
Environment Minister Steven Miles said the men were pictured swimming around the trap, climbing onto it and also venturing inside, where they posed for pictures wearing broad smiles.
“It appears they’ve … swum under a sign that says it’s illegal to tamper with this trap and put themselves literally where we put the bait,” he told reporters.
“I’ve seen some pretty ridiculous things in my time as environment minister, particularly when it comes to crocodiles, but this one takes the cake.”
Ms Leu said the photos were taken close to where Ms Cameron was attacked earlier this month, and while that croc was caught and killed, the area around the marina was a well known croc habitat.
Dr Miles said it was dumb but not illegal to swim around croc traps.
“You can’t make everything that’s stupid illegal,” he said.
But any attempt to interfere or tamper with traps would expose offenders to hefty fines.