A crocodile sighting in Broome has prompted a safety warning, while WA Premier Colin Barnett says measures may be needed for their southward drift.

Crocodiles have increasingly been seen in the Kimberley town of Broome, prompting warnings for locals and a potential state government response in the wake of its controversial shark policy.

The Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) said on Wednesday a four-metre estuarine crocodile had been spotted 10 metres offshore from the tourist town.

The DPaW said people near Entrance Point, Broome Port, Demco Beach and Town Beach should be extra cautious during the next few days.

“We are patrolling the area for any signs of crocodile activity and are prepared for the potential trapping of the crocodile if any aggressive behaviour is reported,” DPaW acting district manager officer Dave Woods said.

“People need to be cautious around the beach and waterways, and be extra vigilant in ensuring children and dogs are kept away from the water’s edge.”

Mr Woods said it was the 11th sighting of an estuarine crocodile in the Broome area since August.

“This is an indication that these occurrences are no longer isolated incidents,” he said.

Premier Colin Barnett, who has come under fire for WA’s new catch-and-kill shark policy, said he was concerned by the crocodiles being found further south than usual.

“I can see that there are going to have to be measures taken around Broome in controlling the southward drift of crocodile populations,” Mr Barnett told ABC radio.

“It is a major issue in Queensland, with large numbers of crocodiles coming down the Queensland coast – perhaps reoccupying traditional areas before European settlement – but again, high-population areas and large dangers there.”

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam responded with shock to Mr Barnett’s comment.

“It really sounds as though our premier has taken leave of his senses,” Senator Ludlam said.

Estuarine and freshwater crocodiles are protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act.