THE heartbroken owner of a dog that was taken by a crocodile at Wonga Beach blames himself for his pet's loss, saying he should not have stood so close to the water.
Wonga Beach resident Jonathan Twist, 65, was cast-netting at the northern end of the beach on Tuesday about 6.30am when a large saltwater crocodile at least 3.5m long suddenly emerged from the water and grabbed his female cattle-cross Freckles in its jaws, and swam away.
"It was a pretty big tide, and Freckles was about 15 feet (4.5m) standing away from me, looking at me with one leg in the air," Mr Twist said.
"A big crocodile came up from behind her, grabbed her, and just dived under the waves - it was just gone," he said.
"It resurfaced about 15 minutes later, about 200m off the coast, and he went north towards the caravan park.
"We went up to a creek that (the croc) had been seen coming out of, and then a couple of kids found Freckle's collar, on the beach a bit further up from where she was taken.
"It all happened in a split second, but to me it all happened in slow motion."
Mr Twist, who has lived in the Far North for more than two decades, said he partly blamed himself for the encounter.
"I had a bit of routine going, standing out the front of the house and throwing my cast-net in," he said.
"Freckles used to come with me, and she used to go to the net and eat the fish out of there.
"She used to enjoy it, and she was always in such close proximity."
The Department of Environment and Science has warned Far North Queenslanders not to be complacent around the edge of waterways, where saltwater crocodiles may be present.
Mr Twist, however, believed the department should be more proactive in protecting people from the dangerous reptiles.
"I think any large crocodile south of the Daintree River, where the tourists are, from Wonga down to Port Douglas, needs to be addressed," he said.
"Anything over 10-12 feet should be managed. It should be relocated."