Huge crocodile trapped by wheelie bin barricade after appearing in Queensland backyard

Karumba locals use improvised barricades to corral the 3.5m saltwater crocodile, which made an unwelcome appearance on New Years Eve

Locals in a small north Queensland fishing town improvised with rubbish bins and hay bales to corral a 3.5m crocodile who wandered into their midst on New Years Eve.

The crocodile kept police and residents in Karumba, on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria, on high alert for most of Saturday until environment department officials arrived from Cairns, about 700km away, to capture and remove the reptile.

The male saltwater crocodile was discovered sunning itself in the backyard of a local house on Karumbas waterfront Esplanade around 6am on Saturday, later moving to the propertys front gate.

Police and locals initially orchestrated a line of wheelie bins in an attempt to funnel him back towards the water but it became clear he wasnt keen to move, police media said in a release.

Karumba residents improvise with rubbish bins and hay bins in an attempt to lead a saltwater crocodile back to the water. Photograph: Queensland Police

A video uploaded to YouTube captured locals disappointment when the crocodile, after taking a few tentative steps in the direction of the shoreline, performed an about face to return to his post at the houses front gate where he remained for the rest of the day.

Officers then decided to surround the crocodile with hay bales to contain him until the wildlife officials arrived from Cairns. The animal was reportedly then hoisted by forklift into a boat as the new year countdown approached on Saturday night.

The reptile was in a local holding facility on Monday, with the environment department trying to find it a new home, such as a crocodile farm, a spokeswoman said.

A local resident, Danielle Day, told the ABC the crocodile wandered into two accommodation complexes before settling in the residential backyard.

Weve been here for nearly 10 years and weve never seen that happen, like [a crocodile] come up on to the road and come up to where people stay, she said.

Karumba, on the banks of the Norman river with a population of about 500, is billed as a fishing Mecca and the inspiration for the Red Hot Chili Peppers song Animal Bar, named after the local pub.

The Karumba crocodile was one of almost 400 removed by wildlife officers in 2016 under Queenslands largely non-lethal management plan for the protected animal.

Northern Territory rangers pulled out 223 salties in 2016 a significant decline from 290 the year before.

Ranger Tom Nichols put that down to two poor wet seasons, but this holiday season has been wetter than normal as monsoonal conditions kick in. Most national parks in the Top End are now closed due to croc safety and flooding concerns.

Nichols described it as a very concerning time of year as river systems join up, and he urged the public to remain vigilant.

Remember that a crocodile will see you before you see them, he said. Saltwater crocodiles were removed from many parts of the Territory, including Darwin Harbour, the northern suburbs as well as tidal creeks and inlets, meaning they could be anywhere at any time.

Salties can inhabit freshwater systems, billabongs and low areas subject to flooding.

Crocodiles were hunted to near extinction in the NT after the second world war, with only about 3,000 left in the wild in 1971 when they became a protected species. Numbers have since exploded up to 100,000 in the Top End.

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