7:03am UK, Sunday January 10, 2010
Huw Borland, Sky News Online
Sharks that attack swimmers will be hunted down, shot in the head and sawed apart until their spines are severed, according to reports.
Perth's Sunday Times revealed the gruesome methods for dealing with man-eaters approved by the Government of Western Australia.
A shark that attacked a swimmer would be slaughtered if it continued to pose a threat to beachgoers, WA Department of Fisheries's Tina Thorne was quoted by the paper as saying.
But the kill order would only be given in "extreme circumstances", as a last resort where there was an immediate danger to the public.
Ms Thorne said fisheries officers would first use a baited drumline and put "attractant" in the water to try to hook the shark.
The creature would then be hauled aboard a boat where officers would "have to use a large firearm to dispatch the animal".
"That is not an easy task, as sharks have very small brains," she said.
Once shot through the head, officers would ensure the creature was dead by "severing the spinal cord and bleeding it out".
"Even if you hook it, you can't just fly over in a chopper and shoot it because of refraction (of the bullets) in the water," Ms Thorne said.
But great whites - the species responsible for most fatal attacks - are protected and a special exemption from the law is required to kill one.
Six people have been killed by sharks in Western Australia in the past 20 years, the paper added.