Going Soft on Crocodile Crime

In the old days, collective punishment was the norm when crocs killed. Now, endoscopies and X-rays are used to find the culprit

Frank Harrison / Auscape

Mouths to feed: Some experts believe Australia's wild crocodile population may have reached 100,000

When Saltwater crocodiles killed a human on Australia's northeast coast in the old days, a posse of gun-toting locals would converge on the area, blast all crocs to death, slit open their bellies to establish guilt, and release the unfortunate victim's remains for a decent burial. But in these environmentally enlightened times, authorities are taking a very different approach — and not everybody is happy about it.

Inhabiting the tidal estuaries around Australia's northern coast, the crocs, or salties, as they're known locally, grow to more than 17 feet and can weigh more than a ton. They lurk near river crossings, where...

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