FRESH calls are being made for a cull of crocodiles in North Queensland after a yachtsman was knocked from his dinghy and consumed near Hinchinbrook Island.
Andrew Heard’s 2.5m boat was found flipped on its head after his wife Erica alerted authorities that he had not returned to their yacht from a fishing trip on Thursday.
After a search party failed to find the pensioner, a 4.2 metre crocodile was caught and euthanised on Friday.
A subsequent necropsy has confirmed that the reptile had human remains inside it.
There has been an outpouring of grief for the life-long member of the Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron.
John Stewart said: ‘He is one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet. He’s a huge loss.
‘He is most highly regarded and highly respected in the yachting circles up and down the coast.’
Justine Porter said: ‘Absolutely devastated for your loss Erica. I trust the CCYS club will wrap you up in love and support, sending you strength. Words just can’t express our sadness.’
A number of Hinchinbrook locals have responded by calling for a crocodile cull.
Writing on Facebook, Jack Pricthard said: ‘About time something was done.’
Sam Torrisi added: ‘Like how they say it’s a rogue croc. Compared to what? A nice croc? They are predators full stop. In years to come there will be a cull.’
Tania Fudriga said: ‘We saw a yachty in Dungeoness last weekend using a canoe not even 2 metres long going back from land to his yacht.
‘When you’re in a croc’s territory assume the worst and pray for the best.’
Roy Edward Simpson, who is listed as a team leader at Queensland Fire and Rescue, cast a more extreme view, writing: ‘And now they are going to euthanise it maybe we should do the same to murderers and rapists who end up being fed and cared for.
‘They are predators worse than the crocs sadly for the fisherman in this case.’
Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto, whose Katter’s Australian Party have been long-time advocates of a cull, stopped short of adding his voice to the calls.
The Queensland politician paid his respects to the victim and his widow, saying: ‘I would like to offer our deepest condolences to Erica Lang and Andrew Heard’s family and friends during this devastating time.
‘We were all praying for a miracle as Queensland Water Police, divers, QPWS, local boaties/fishermen and others joined in the search.
‘It saddens me to learn this morning that remains were found last night [Friday 12 February].
‘Andy will be dearly missed and will be remembered as a top bloke. God bless.’
According to Queensland Historical Atlas, this state was the last jurisdiction in Australia to legally protect crocodiles when in 1974 both the salt and fresh water species were safeguarded through legislation.
Queensland’s Environment department states that crocodiles were hunted to the brink of extinction for their prized skins.
The saltwater crocodile is now listed as a vulnerable species in the state, and efforts have been made over the past 40 years to conserve the prehistoric creature.