Sydney: A group of men seen swimming inside a baited crocodile trap in Australia near where a woman was recently eaten were blasted as “idiots of the century” Tuesday.
Photos posted on Facebook showed the four men clambering on the floating trap set near a marina at Port Douglas in northern Queensland state and even posing inside it.
It is not far from where a 4.3 metre (14 feet) croc killed dementia sufferer Anne Cameron.
The beast that took the 79-year-old less than two weeks ago was trapped and human remains found inside, but plenty of other crocodiles inhabit the rivers and seas in the area.
Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu said she was stunned at their stupidity.
“I was absolutely gobsmacked, this is incredibly stupid and dangerous behaviour,” she told broadcaster ABC.
“I’m wondering if these fellows are vying for the idiots of the year award or the idiots of the century award.”
Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles also weighed in, tweeting: “Srsly? The meat we put in these traps is bait. For crocodiles. Don’t swim in them! It’s stupid, and illegal.”
Saltwater crocodiles, which can grow up to seven metres long and weigh more than a tonne, are a common feature of Australia’s tropical north and kill an average of two people a year.
Their numbers have exploded since they were declared a protected species in the 1970s, with Cameron’s death reigniting calls to control them.
Queensland’s environment department said the men’s actions were “reckless”.
“These traps are specifically designed to attract crocodiles and they are deployed in places where a problem crocodile is known to be present,” it said in a statement.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that interfering with crocodile traps can be potentially life-threatening for the person concerned.”
There are fines of up to Aus$15,000 (US$11,700) for interfering with a crocodile trap.