TOGETHER: O’Connell River resident John Casey gets to keep his 3m esturine pet crocodile Charlene after complying with DERM’s requirements. Photo Aimee Vinci / Whitsunday Times
TOGETHER: O’Connell River resident John Casey gets to keep his 3m esturine pet crocodile Charlene after complying with DERM’s requirements. Photo Aimee Vinci / Whitsunday Times

Snappy decision about Charlene

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.

John 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," he said.

"A local crocodile handler [Peter Basso] came forward and said he would also help me out with some more formal training."

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 noticed a change in Charlene's mood. "She wasn't as reactive as she used to be," he said.

Mr Casey's property is located behind the O'Connell River Whitsunday Tourist Park at Lethebrook and the signage on his crocodile enclosure would attract 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.

Above all Mr Casey was glad he could keep his beloved pet.

"It was fairly upsetting that I might have had to get rid of her," he said.

"She's a good pet, easier to keep then a dog or cat.

"She is quiet and doesn't bark at anyone. I try to have as much contact with her as I can."

Mr Casey feeds Charlene fish once a week with the occasional treat of chicken when she is nesting.

"She layed 42 eggs last year," he said. Knowing that Charlene will out live him, Mr Casey said he would be putting her in his will

"She is a family heirloom," he said.


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