Wildlife ranger killed by crocodile in northern Australia

AP

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DARWIN, Australia (AP) A wildlife ranger was killed by a crocodile Friday in Australia's Northern Territory while gathering mussels with her family in a waterhole, police said.

The indigenous woman was attacked in a remote area 206 kilometers (128 miles) southwest of the community of Yirrkala, NT WorkSafe said. The employment safety watchdog said it was investigating.

Her body was recovered hours later less than 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) from where she was taken by the crocodile, Northern Territory Police Commander Tony Fuller said. Local wildlife rangers killed the crocodile.

"She was with the group ... and the group noticed her missing," Fuller told Australian Broadcasting Corp. "They heard some splashing. The bucket that she was carrying was found nearby."

Fuller said the woman had been in waist-deep water when she was taken, and whether she was working as a wildlife ranger at the time would form part of the police investigation.

The last fatal crocodile attack in Australia was October last year when a 79-year-old dementia patient was killed after wandering from a nursing home at Port Douglas in Queensland state.

Crocodiles have been a protected species in Australia since the 1970s, which has led to an explosion in their population across the country's tropical north. Because saltwater crocodiles can live up 70 years and grow throughout their lives reaching up to 7 meters (23 feet) in length the proportion of large crocodiles is also rising.

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