Sludge the saltie took up residency at Darwin golf course, in the heart of the city earlier this year. (Facebook: Darwin Golf Club)
A crocodile has been spotted swimming in a Darwin golf course, prompting a warning from wildlife rangers as the Top End’s wet season kicks off.
The 1.5 metre freshwater crocodile was spotted at the Durack Golf Course in Palmerston on Monday but a call out team was unable to trap it.
“They actually surveyed all the lakes and they did spot a crocodile … but unfortunately it was extremely touchy and they couldn’t get close enough,” Chief Wildlife Ranger Tom Nichols said.
“They believe it was a freshie.
“The crocodile is definitely still in the lake, we will be setting up a trap.
“Our biggest problem is that freshies don’t always go to the usual bait so some take a little time.”
Senior Research Associate at Charles Darwin University Adam Britton said it could be the work of disheartened pet owners.
Sludge was baited, trapped and removed by NT Parks and Wildlife then relocated to Noonamah Croc Farm. (Facebook: Darwin Gold Club)
“Finding a freshwater crocodile in that area of Palmerston is almost certainly someone who has released it there, but you never know, they get bold these crocs,” Mr Britton said.
Rangers said there was also a possibility the animal entered the water through a drain linked to Hudson Creek, a waterhole known to be inhabited by crocodiles.
An eagle-eyed beach goer spotted a small saltie swimming in the shallows of Mindil Beach in November. (Supplied: Rachel Gleeson)
In November, golfers at the Darwin Gold Club were advised to “use extreme caution” after a 1.5 metre saltwater crocodile, nicknamed Sludge, was spotted being very active in the late afternoons and nights.
The sightings prompted calls for people to be on alert for crocodiles, which are known to move great distances when water levels rise.
“Especially at this time of the year you always have to assume that any body of water might have a crocodile in it, it probably doesn’t, but it’s better not to take the risk and then find out the difficult way,” Mr Britton said.
“It’s warmer at this time of the year so crocs are more active, this is breeding season for them so they’re super active and moving around.
“Because the big crocs are so active, the smaller ones tend to stay out of their way,” he said.
Saltwater crocodiles were listed as protected in 1971 after being hunted almost to extinction.
Since then, their numbers have increased and it is now estimated there are between 100,000 and 200,000 in the wild.
Saltwater crocodile populations have expanded into areas where they have not been found since before hunting began.
Rangers are warning residents to be “croc-wise” by being cautious every time they are near a Top End waterway.
They advise anyone who sees a crocodile that poses a risk to public safety to report it to the Northern Territory’s 24 hour hotline.