Poisoned eagles highlight inadequacies of wildlife laws
The Victorian Environment Minister, Lily D'Ambrosio, has ordered the first-ever review of the state’s native wildlife protection laws. The decision has been welcomed by BirdLife Australia. The review follows the killing of hundreds of Wedge-tailed Eagles on a single property in East Gippsland, which exposed the current laws as being inadequate.
The manager of the property deliberately poisoned more than 400 of the protected birds of prey, and subsequently pleaded guilty to charges of killing protected wildlife. The owner of the property, who provided assistance and encouragement, including the poison used to bait the birds, faced lesser charges of the misuse of agricultural chemicals.
If the scope of their crimes shocked Victorians, so did the sentences they received. The manager was fined $2500 and sent to prison for 2 weeks, while the property owner received a good behaviour bond and was ordered to pay $25,000 to the court fund. Under the Act, both faced potential fines more than $350,000 or six months' jail (or both).
"Cases like these, where our native animals are killed in this way, rightly appal Victorians and they appal me," said Mrs D’Ambrosio. "The government has pursued all penalties for the parties available under existing legislation, and I have ordered a review of the Wildlife Act to look at how it can be strengthened."
"A review of the Act will be to modernise [it], and that includes its penalties regime," she said.
Birdlife Australia’s National Public Affairs Manager Sean Dooley said that BirdLife Australia supported the review of the Wildlife Act.
"BirdLife Australia strongly supports the Victorian government’s announcement that they will review the Wildlife Act. Our nature laws must be stronger to ensure they actually protect our precious wildlife."
"More than 400 wedge-tailed Eagles were killed — a vile act that could have serious implications for the eagle population across all of south-eastern Australia," he said.
The inadequate and outdated Wildlife Act in Victoria is just one example — among many — of how Australia’s wildlife protection laws don’t actually protect our wildlife. BirdLife Australia has been campaigning vigorously to strengthen Australia’s failing wildlife laws. And you can help — click here to find out how.