NEWS 10 June 2020 |

In mid-May VNPA campaigner Jordan Crook was called to a gruesome scene at Warramate Hills Nature Conservation Reserve that shocked and sickened him.

A bushwalker out enjoying an autumn day had stumbled upon a Wombat caught by the foot in an illegal snare trap.

In area put aside for the preservation of nature, this Wombat had fallen victim to a cruel and painful torture.

Immediately Wildlife Victoria was called, and a local wildlife carer was sent to the site. After an assessment, it was quickly realised that this large healthy male wombat had severe injuries beyond rehabilitation. Its struggle had badly dislocated his shoulder and the snare was so tight around his leg that it had cut off his circulation. Due to his inability to be rehabilitated the sad decision was made by the wildlife carer to euthanise him.

Snare traps such as this are illegal in Victoria, and the use of these traps are in violation of the Wildlife Act 1975 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, and can lead to fines and jail time for perpetrators.

Since the Wildlife Act’s inception in Victoria nearly 50 years ago , only one person has been jailed for the destruction of protected wildlife.

A farm manager from Tubbut that killed over 100 Wedge Tail Eagles in 2018 was sentenced for only 14 days with a $2500 fine. The business owner who supplied the chemicals escaped with a 12-month community correction order, 100 hours of unpaid community work and ordered to pay $25,000 and DELWP costs after pleading guilty to misuse of agricultural chemicals. See www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/bloody-well-done-texts-and-emails-reveal-scheme-to-poison-eagles-20190917-p52s0z.html

When it comes to compliance, meaningful penalties and convictions, the Wildlife Act lacks teeth and does not meet community expectations.

The Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio has indicated she would like to see a review and changes to the Wildlife Act. (See www.gippslandtimes.com.au/story/6752444/wildlife-act-needs-to-better-protect-wildlife )

What these changes might be is yet to be known.

A meaningful review would be undertaken by an independent expertise-based panel to conduct an inquiry. An inquiry should not be restricted to just the Wildlife Act but look at all native animal protection legislation in Victoria, and aligning these laws with community expectations.

A review, and the subsequent modernisation of the compliance and enforcement mechanisms, need to be legislated, and the resources and tools fully resourced to restore community confidence in the administration of wildlife protection laws.

Many of the current laws are outdated and reflect old-fashioned views on wildlife protection and management.

We know that the Wildlife Act and the government departments that enforce it need increased legislative power and adequate resources to properly police, charge and convict persons perpetrating wildlife crime in Victoria.

The Wildlife Act and enforcement of these laws needs to be strong enough to deter offenders in the first place.

The case of the illegal snare traps being used in Warramate Hills Nature Conservation Reserve resulting in the death of the Wombat is now being investigated by DELWP Wildlife Officers.

VNPA is offering a reward of $1000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible.

If you have information relating to these illegal activities please email [email protected]

Warramate Nature Conservation Reserve is on the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation.

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