January 18, 2022

The Werribee News is the local newspaper of Werribee, Victoria state. We publish weekly and has a circulation of five thousand's website visits per week.

Wildlife keeper convicted over reptile cruelty

Conservation regulator werribee

A Werribee wildlife keeper who failed to care to for his collection of more than 200 reptiles, has was convicted and sentenced to a 12-month Community Corrections Order.

Conservation Regulator Authorised Officers executed a search warrant on the man’s house in 2019, discovering reptiles that were dead and severely injured due to inadequate enclosures, food and water, and veterinary treatment.

The man admitted that much of the wildlife in his possession has been taken from the wild. 

He had also failed to maintain accurate records of the reptiles in his possession, which was required under his wildlife licence conditions.

Magistrate Julie Grainger said the offences were normally punishable by jail, but the Werribee man was given a lesser sentence because of a range of factors including the man’s poor mental health, loss of business and relationships, and his early guilty plea.

The man pleaded guilty to offences under the Wildlife Act 1975, Wildlife Regulations 2013 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.

Conditions of his Community Corrections Order include undergoing medical assessment and treatment, and to perform 100 hours of unpaid community work.

The Werribee man came to the Conservation Regulator’s attention during Operation SHEFFIELD, a joint wildlife trafficking investigation with Australian Border Force, the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, Australia Post, and RSPCA Victoria between 2018-2019.

Five people linked to Operation SHEFFIELD have been convicted, including two prosecuted by the Conservation Regulator. In 2019 a Taiwanese national was convicted and jailed for six months for illegally possessing and dealing in native species resulting in the trafficking of hundreds of Australian native reptiles to Hong Kong.

The Conservation Regulator has continued its focus on wildlife crime, recently launching the Break the Chain campaign with Crime Stoppers Victoria and Agriculture Victoria. Anyone with information about wildlife crime is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or https://www.crimestoppersvic.com.au/.

To apply for a wildlife licence or to find out more about legal keeping of wildlife, visit https://www.vic.gov.au/wildlife-licences-and-permits.

Quotes attributable to Chief Conservation Regulator, Kate Gavens

“This conviction should serve as a reminder of the sad reality of wildlife crime. Once an animal is taken from the wild it cannot be returned because of disease and welfare risks, so it is important to source animals legally and properly care for them.”

We urge the public to report information about wildlife crime or suspicious behaviour to Crime Stoppers, as even a small amount of information could lead to a significant outcome.”

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