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Convictions and $12,500 in fines for pair of Goulburn Valley firewood thieves

Two men from the Goulburn Valley were convicted and fined a combined amount of $12,500 for a total of 14 firewood offences at the Shepparton and Seymour Magistrates’ Courts last week.

Wednesday 25 January 2023 1:35am
Felled tree in the Lower Goulburn National Park
Felled tree in the Lower Goulburn National Park

Two men from Shepparton and Congupna have been convicted and fined a combined amount of $12,500 after they pled guilty to a total of 14 charges related to the illegal take of firewood from public land at the Shepparton and Seymour Magistrates’ Courts last week.

On Friday 20 January 2023, a 29-year-old Congupna man admitted to illegally cutting and taking timber on several occasions between August and September 2021 from both the Lower Goulburn National Park and the Loch Garry Wildlife Reserve.

The man pled guilty to 11 charges relating to disturbing wildlife habitat, illegal firewood collection, illegal off-road driving and obstructing an Authorised Officer in the execution of their duty.

Presiding Magistrate Altman also ordered the destruction of two chainsaws and the man’s dual trailer.

A 37-year-old man from Shepparton, who has previously been convicted of similar offences, pled guilty to three charges of illegally cutting timber, disturbing wildlife habitat, and driving offroad in the Loch Garry Wildlife Reserve in September 2021.

In his sentencing on Thursday 19 January 2023, Magistrate Mithen said his penalty was “steeper” due to the man’s repeat offending.

Conservation Regulator Authorised Officers detected the pair after they were captured on concealed cameras in the wildlife reserve, which were installed as part of Operation River Gum.

Operation River Gum is a joint operation between the Conservation Regulator, Forest Fire Management Victoria, and Parks Victoria to address illegal firewood removal from vulnerable ecosystems along the Murray River corridor.

The Lower Goulburn National Park and the Loch Garry Wildlife Reserve are important environmental sanctuaries for wildlife, including threatened and rare species, and the removal of native trees from these areas has significant and lasting consequences for both native species and the community.

For more information about firewood regulation in Victoria, visit www.vic.gov.au/collecting-firewood.

The community can report the illegal cutting or removal of firewood anonymously by calling 136 186.

The Lower Goulburn National Park is home to some important native species and the loss of these trees will have lasting environmental impacts.

These men have deliberately stolen wildlife habitat and community resources, and their convictions should be a reminder to anyone thinking about illegally taking timber from public land that they will be caught and face consequences.

Stephen McMonigle
Acting Manager Regulatory Operations, Hume Region
Conservation Regulator Victoria

Reviewed 25 January 2023

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