A group of men have been branded as “idiots of the century” after their photographs of swimming inside a baited crocodile trap in northeast Australia surfaced on Tuesday.
Photos posted on Facebook showed the four 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 near a marina at Port Douglas in northern Queensland state, not far from where a 4.3m (14-foot) croc killed 79-year-old dementia sufferer Anne Cameron
The photos which surfaced online left the mayor of Douglas Shire, Julia Leu, stunned.
“I was absolutely gobsmacked, this is incredibly stupid and dangerous behaviour. I’m wondering if these fellows are vying for the idiots of the year award or the idiots of the century award,” she told ABC radio.
Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles also expressed disbelief, tweeting: “Srsly? The meat we put in these traps is bait. For crocodiles. Don’t swim in them! It’s stupid, and illegal.”
— Steven Miles (@StevenJMiles) October 23, 2017
“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.”
Saltwater crocodiles, which can grow up to seven metres long and weigh more than a tonne, are a common feature of Australia’s tropical north and kill an average of two people a year.
Queensland environment department said in a statement that, “These traps are specifically designed to attract crocodiles and they are deployed in places where a problem crocodile is known to be present,”
“It is not an exaggeration to say that interfering with crocodile traps can be potentially life-threatening for the person concerned.”
The men, who have been widely condemned after the photos spread on social media, could face a Aus$15,000 fine if convicted of tampering with the trap.