‘Massive’ crocodile found on the loose in Fitzroy Crossing after WA floods

Kimberley locals have spent a sleepless night trying to catch a large crocodile that emerged from floodwaters and was found roaming the streets of Fitzroy Crossing close to houses.

The 3-metre animal was found by a resident in the flood-stricken Western Australian town at 2am on Thursday.

Jasmine Bedford was one of the first on the scene.

“I was excited and surprised. It was a freshwater crocodile but it was massive,” she said.

“My first feeling was ‘we have to get this crocodile back to the river’, because it was in the middle of the town.”

Police officers, shire rangers and local Aboriginal rangers arrived on the scene, using whatever equipment they had handy to try to wrangle the reptile.

‘Odd pedestrian on Flynn Drive’

“My cousin was walking home from the hospital around 2am, she was busy walking along looking at her phone, and she’s looked up and seen a massive crocodile on the footpath,” Ms Bedford said.

“She was screaming and saying a few French words because she was so scared.

“I rang the police and told them there’s an odd pedestrian here on Flynn Drive.

“When the police arrived, I made a joke to them and said, ‘hey, have you got big enough handcuffs?’.”

A large crocodile sitting on a footpath.
After several hours of amateur wrangling, the crocodile was returned to the Fitzroy River. (Supplied: Jasmine Bedford)

“There was like six cars there surrounding this one crocodile.

“It looked like it was well fed, so there were also jokes about hopefully no one’s lost their dog, but look fingers crossed because I know that’s not a joking matter.

“There was lots of jumps and scares, because he would catch you unawares and come out with a hiss or a growl, it was so funny.”

Over several hours, they improvised a high-risk capture.

At one point, a police officer threw a towel on the animal’s head to try to subdue it.

A large crocodile sitting on a footpath.
This photo shows the size of the croc that was roaming the streets of Fitzroy Crossing. (Supplied: Jasmine Bedford)

Equipment used to catch stray dogs was also used, but the slender freshie was able to slip away.

Ms Bedford said the scene was both amusing and scary.

“It was really funny, there were moments of people running down the streets. When the crocodile started thrashing around my two kids sprinted away and then came back laughing.

“We were YouTubing ‘how to catch a crocodile’ because we weren’t sure what to do.

“In the end it was all pretty entertaining, especially now that we know the crocodile was safely returned home.”

The crocodile was returned to the flooded Fitzroy River just after dawn.

A woman standing with three children.
Fitzroy Crossing resident Jasmine Bedford (left) with her son Tarique, cousin Geneva Bedford and daughter Tyeisha. (Supplied: Jasmine Bedford)

Saltwater crocodiles — which are larger and more aggressive — are usually relocated to a crocodile park when found on the loose.

But it was deemed best that the wandering freshwater croc was returned to the local waterway.

Latest drama for exhausted town

The shock croc appearance is the latest drama for the flood-stricken Fitzroy Crossing community.

It’s been three weeks since record-breaking floodwaters surged through the streets, destroying around 30 houses and requiring hundreds of residents to be evacuated.

A view from above of extensive flooding over fields
The record-breaking floods that ripped through the remote Kimberley region this month made news around the world.(ABC News: Erin Parke)

With the clean-up and repairs only just getting underway, a host of health hazards are emerging, linked to mosquito swarms, mould and decaying cattle carcasses.

Ms Bedford said they would be adding crocodile visits to the long list of risks.

“We do get little crocodiles coming out of the water most wet seasons, but with this flooding we’re expecting more,” she said.

An aerial shot of a damaged bridge over a river
A mission to assess the damage of the important Fitzroy River bridge was delayed due to the probability of crocodiles in the water.(ABC News: James Carmody)

“There was good community spirit involved – everyone turned out to help get this crocodile to safety.”

“Everyone should be very proud … from the policemen who’d only just arrived in the Kimberley, to locals who have a bit of experience with crocodiles who jumped in.”

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