Katherine wildlife rangers have captured their first crocodile of the year - a massive 3.96 metre male saltie with almost half of his jaw lost to a previous fight for territory.
The recent rain that inundated the Katherine River pushing it to a high of almost 16 metres has opened the floodgates for crocs following two consecutive poor wet seasons.
The saltie was pulled from a trap located at the boat ramp in the First Gorge at Nitmiluk National Park on Monday morning, and although he wasn't quite as big as the 4.4m, 350-kilogram saltwater hauled from Flora River Nature Park last year in August, rangers are expecting to find more of these sizeable beasts in the coming months.
"He was a pretty big one," senior wildlife ranger John Burke said, but it wasn't unexpected.
"With the extreme river rise we've just seen there was a strong chance a saltie had moved into the Katherine river system."
Rangers set their trap on Sunday afternoon and didn't have to wait long at all for a hungry croc to be seized.
"Two poor wet seasons and not a lot of rain in the catchment over that period meant crocodiles were not able to freely move around," ranger Burke said.
"During that period we managed to remove a lot of the crocs of various sizes and in doing that we created a bit of a hole so it has allowed big crocs to come out.
"Essentially we took the gatekeepers out, so we're expecting to see more this year."
As the Katherine River rose to heights not seen since about 2008, the crocodile is believed to have made his way upstream from the Daly River.
"He would have come right through the middle of town during the flood time," ranger Burke said.
"It is a timely warning that crocs can be anywhere, certainly after big bursts of rain."
By the end of last year, Katherine wildlife rangers had captured 12 crocodiles from the catchment area.
Despite the region recording a run of extremely dry wet seasons which saw the river dip to record-breaking lows, one of the biggest salties found in years - the 4.4m from Flora Nature Park - was pulled from the river and a smaller 2.23 metre saltie was found in April at Edith Falls, a popular swimming spot for locals and tourists.
"It is important to remember crocodiles can be anywhere, they can move from the river system to billabongs and now more than ever it is important to remember we are expecting to see more around because of the river rise," ranger Burke said.
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