Battle to keep ‘pet' crocodiles off death row

A NORTH Queensland man is preparing to take on the State Government after he was issued a permit for his two pet crocodiles with a devastating condition - they be killed or given away at 1.2m.

Adrian Hogg has loved crocs since he was a kid and has always dreamt of owning a slice of far north Queensland paradise to house them - and other wild animals.

Now 42, the father of two and former wildlife ranger owns 110ha of rainforest south of Cairns and has two pet saltwater crocodiles, measuring 80cm and 90cm.

Mr Hogg bought the two as hatchlings, over the counter at a farm in the Northern Territory and moved them to Queensland in December.

After a nine month delay, the Department of Environment and Science issued Mr Hogg with a permit to have the reptiles, but only until they reach 1.2m.

Adrian Hogg with his pet crocodiles. Picture: Brian Cassey
Adrian Hogg with his pet crocodiles. Picture: Brian Cassey

Mr Hogg, who is familiar with the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and its subordinate regulations, said there was no legislation for the 1.2m condition.

He said it was added to his permit on the "opinion" of bureaucrats, who argue it is dangerous for his two crocodiles to reside on his isolated Innisfail property.

"The way the bureaucracy works in Queensland doesn't make sense, they seem to have the right to make up conditions and you have to do it," he said.

"They could say I have to take them for a chopper flight over the Great Barrier Reef, because they like saltwater, and I would have to do it.

"I have worked as a ranger for the Queensland government, trapping and moving on problem crocs … at 18 I was hand feeding crocs up to 5m, now at 42 I'm not allowed to keep them above 1.2m, it's a joke.

"When they reach 1.2m, I have the option to kill them, or give them to a zoo or a croc farm, but they are all full and a farm would eventually kill them anyway.

"Now I have to go through QCAT and fight something that is opinion, not law … there is a bloke in Proserpine (who had similar issues) and won."

Adrian Hogg handling a large croc when he was 18.
Adrian Hogg handling a large croc when he was 18.

Mr Hogg, who has worked with crocs his whole life, said he was now forced to feed his pet crocs a minimal diet to stop them growing quickly while he fought the decision.

Adrian Hogg handles a crocodile when he was 21
Adrian Hogg handles a crocodile when he was 21

He said he intended to keep the crocodiles for their entire natural life, with plans to pass them onto his children later in life, should they want them.

"You give me a 5m croc, I can rope it up … when you work with crocs, it's like working with Windows (on a computer), you can do it, or you can't," he said.

"If you live in a high rise in Surfers Paradise, a croc is not for you, but if you live in croc country and have 110ha of rainforest and have experience and have a permit, what's the problem?

"There really seems to be a phobia of crocs in Queensland."

A Department of Environment and Science spokesman did not answer specific questions about the 1.2m condition, but said crocodiles could not be kept as pets in Queensland.

"A person moving to Queensland from a state or territory where they are lawfully allowed may apply to bring that animal with them," he said.

"These permits are issued with strict conditions to protect owners, the public and the animals."

"Mr Hogg has been advised of his right to lodge an appeal of his permit conditions with the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal."