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Australian rangers trap big crocodile near tourist gorge

Northern Territory Department of Tourism and Culture/AP

In this photo provided by the Northern Territory Department of Tourism and Culture, a large crocodile is bound on a trailer after it was captured near Katherine, Australia.

The Associated Press CANBERRA (AP) — Wildlife rangers said Tuesday that they had trapped a 4.7-meter saltwater crocodile, the largest they had ever caught in the northern Australian Katherine River and in an upstream region popular with tourists that is thought relatively safe from the killer predators.

Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife said it had trapped the 600-kilogram reptile on Monday more than 300 kilometers from the ocean and only 30 kilometers downstream from Katherine Gorge, a major tourist attraction outside the Northern Territory town of Katherine.

Tourists swim, canoe and take cruises in the gorge among freshwater crocodiles, a different species that are small, timid and rarely harm humans. Mid-year is the peak tourist season.

Ranger John Burke said authorities had been hunting the large crocodile in the area for a decade.

“We’ve called it a lot of things over the years because it’s been so hard to catch,” Burke said.

“On record, this is the biggest saltwater crocodile removed from the Katherine management zone,” he added, referring to the part of the river where saltwater crocs, a protected species, are trapped because they’re too close to human populations.

Northern Territory-based crocodile expert Grahame Webb said saltwater crocs, also known as estuarine crocodiles, were heading farther upstream into fresh water river systems as their population has boomed since they were protected by federal law in 1971.

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