O’Connell River resident John Casey gets to keep his pet three-meter estuarine crocodile, Charlene, after complying with DERM’s requirements.
O’Connell River resident John Casey gets to keep his pet three-meter estuarine crocodile, Charlene, after complying with DERM’s requirements. Aimee Vinci

Pet croc stays put

JOHN Casey can sleep a little easier at night knowing he is able to keep his three-metre estuarine crocodile Charlene.

Mr Casey has owned his pet for the past 48 years but in December 2010 the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) enforced new conditions, including erecting a second fence around her enclosure.

The crocodile was previously owned by Mr Casey's father, Alf, and has been well-known in the Whitsundays for many years.

In November 2010 Mr Casey was informed by DERM that the conditions for owning a crocodile had changed after his father had died.

Mr Casey wanted to have Charlene's permit transferred to his name but it cost him about $10,000 in legal fees and $5000 for a new fence.

"But in the end DERM and I came to an agreement. A local crocodile handler (Peter Basso) came forward and said he would also help me out with some more formal training," he said.

Mr Casey has a recreational licence to keep Charlene for the next five years, which he will then have to renew.

After erecting the new fence he said he had noticed a change in Charlene's mood.

"She wasn't as reactive as she used to be," he said.

Mr Casey's property is behind the O'Connell River Whitsunday Tourist Park at Lethebrook and the signage on his crocodile enclosure would have attracted the attention of many tourists.

This was something DERM told Mr Casey he had to avoid, by making the signs less visible from the caravan park.


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