Every day, driving by the Belize Water Consolidation Plant lagoon on the southern end of San Pedro Town, one might stumble into the island’s very own Steve Irwin. At around 4:00 p.m., he fishes for crocodiles – no, not to kill them but to lure them to land and play with. This dangerous play is something that has become some sort of a tourist attraction in the last couple of years but garnered more notoriety after Channel 5’s reporter Alyssa Noble did a piece on “crocodile fisherman” Dario Espinoza.
However, the Forest Department has issued a warning stating that it is a crime under Belize law to feed crocodiles. The Department notes that such acts are illegal under the Wildlife Protection Act, Chapter 220 of the Laws of Belize.
The law sets a maximum penalty of $1,000 for every offence of disturbing, harming or killing any bird or animal protected under the Act.
The law empowers the courts to demand a fine and to imprison the guilty party for a period of six months for every offence.
Feeding the crocodiles which inhabit the lagoon is regarded as a form of disturbance of the natural habitat because the crocs develop a dependency on humans for their food.
This dependency creates a potentially dangerous situation which could lead to attacks on humans by hungry crocodiles looking for food. People who live near the lagoon and others who go to or pass by the area are especially at risk.
The department further seeks the public’s assistance in the removal of crocs which stray into populated areas and urges the public to respect the laws that protect the animals and help to preserve human life.