A crocodile living in a creek in northwestern Australia is at the centre of a battle between authorities who want to remove it, and locals who have grown fond of the massive reptile, Channel News Asia (CNA) reported.
Officials in the state of Queensland have set a trap to catch the saltwater croc, which residents have nicknamed Howard, saying he is a danger to humans.
But one schoolboy disagrees — he has written a letter to state environment minister Leeanne Enoch begging her to let the creature stay.
“I lived at Bamboo Creek Road for five years and I loved watching Howard sunbake and seeing him from the bridge every afternoon,” 10-year-old Elroy Woods, from Miallo, wrote in the letter.
“I’m very saddened that Howard is being moved away from his home and I don’t understand why a trap is there for Howard,” he said.
Woods has earned the name “Little Steve Irwin” after campaigning to save the four-metre-long (13-ft.-long) reptile.
David White, who owns a local crocodile-cruise business, said there had been 300 emails sent in support of keeping the animal where it is, and just one complaint.
“I know sometimes crocodiles have to be removed because they stalk people and boats, but Howard’s never done that,” White said.
He also said removing a big, dominant crocodile could see other, more aggressive crocodiles take over the area.
Even Queensland’s Australia Zoo, run by the widow of late celebrity “crocodile hunter” Steve Irwin, has pitched in.
The zoo said in a tweet it was “so proud” of Elroy’s efforts to protect Howard, adding that predators at the top of the food chain were “the most important in any ecosystem.”
However, the government has indicated the trap will remain in place, saying the crocodile will not be destroyed when caught.
A balance “between the need to protect public safety, and the need to conserve estuarine crocodile populations in the wild” must be found, said your basic heartless environment department official.