Local News

Fatal croc attacks in NT increasing: study

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The number of people being killed by crocodiles in the Top End is on the rise, new data shows.

A study by the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre, Royal Darwin Hospital and the Menzies School of Health Research has found croc-related deaths have jumped since hunting was outlawed in 1971.

The report shows 14 people died from croc attacks between 2005 and 2014, compared to 10 deaths in the 33 years to 2004.

The only fatal croc attack since 2014 occurred in January when a man from a remote indigenous community was killed by a 3.3m beast after wading into a notorious croc-infested river crossing in West Arnhem Land.

"There is a fair amount of complacency and a lack of care taken around the water up here," NCCTRC Director Dr David Read said.

The debate over commercial croc safaris reignited last week after a rangers announced a 66 per cent spike in croc captures in the past year.

The Northern Territory government supports regulated trophy hunting in collaboration with indigenous groups but the idea is unlikely to gain traction in the face of longstanding staunch federal government opposition.

The report found there were 95 water-related deaths in the Top End between 2005 and 2014, with drowning, falling or diving and watercraft accidents the main causes.

Booze was a factor in over one half of adult deaths, and Dr Read noted higher rates of alcohol abuse in the Territory.

He said there's scope to improve laws considering there's no legal blood alcohol limit for boat drivers in the NT.

Territorians don't need to hold a licence to operate a recreational boat either.

There was also a disproportionate number of indigenous water related deaths, which Dr Read attributed to more Aboriginal Australians living in remote areas near crocs habitats.

Indigenous Australians represent around 30 per cent of the NT population, but made up 43 per cent of deaths from 2005 to 2014.

© AAP