Battle over croc permit
WHILE most kids grow up with dogs and cats as family pets, Proserpine's John Casey grew up with an estuarine crocodile.
Now 47 years later, he is taking on the State Government who has put new conditions on his permit since he transferred it from his late father's name to his own.
Charlene, the three metre crocodile, has been part of the Casey family since John was just two-years-old.
His father Alf died in November last year.
Despite biting off Alf's hand in a feeding mishap back in 1986, the croc has remained a placid member of the Casey family.
Mr Casey said his father Alf often took the croc on public outings in Proserpine and up and down the coast of North Queensland.
“We used to take her on holidays with us,” he said.
“She was guest of honour at a ball in Cairns once and she has been in nearly every pub from Rockhampton to Cairns.”
Charlene has been in the national media spotlight a couple of times throughout the years and a UK film company is looking at making a documentary on the scaly creature's domesticated life.
But now the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) is cracking down on Mr Casey's permit.
They require him to have a fence around the enclosure, a letter from a zoo, wildlife park or farm which says they will support him with the handling of the crocodile when or if necessary, and he must be formally trained in crocodile handling.
Mr Casey said he felt it was unnecessary to make these conditions since he had grown up with the croc for 47 years.
He has also been Charlene's primary carer for the past 10 years after his father became ill.
Queensland's Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said she understood Mr Casey had a long-standing attachment to the crocodile.
“But there are legitimate safety concerns which Mr Casey must address if he's to continue to keep the crocodile on his property,” she said.
Ms Jones said one of the concerns was the proximity of a caravan park which is about 40 metres from Mr Casey's property.
“If Mr Casey can demonstrate that the crocodile has a proper enclosure, that he has the capacity to capture it if it escapes, and has measures in place to ensure the animal's health DERM will consider renewing his permit when it expires in October next year,” she said.
Mr Casey has appealed the conditions and is using the help of a solicitor to fight the case.