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Illegal firewood thieves caught out in Northern Victoria

Authorities are cracking down on illegal firewood theft with two significant operations intercepted near Shepparton and Mildura last month.

Wednesday 6 October 2021 10:50pm
A truck was seized from Loch Garry Wildlife Reserve.

Authorities are cracking down on illegal firewood theft with two significant operations intercepted near Shepparton and Mildura last month.

Conservation Regulator Authorised Officers seized a truck, chainsaws and mobile phones from two men after they were caught cutting down a 100+ year old river red gum tree in the Loch Garry Wildlife Reserve on 16 September.

The two men were both existing persons of interest and are subject to an ongoing investigation.

It followed a joint operation between the Conservation Regulator and Parks Victoria, with Authorised Officers finding further evidence of trees being felled and timber being unlawfully removed during dedicated patrols along the Goulburn River between Murchison and Echuca.

In the state’s north-west, Conservation Regulator, Parks Victoria and Forest Fire Management Victoria Authorised Officers executed a search warrant at a Mildura property on 21 September, after a 23 year old man was found allegedly taking river red gum timber from public land in the Mildura area.

During the search, officers seized red gum timber from the man’s property, along with related equipment. The investigation is ongoing.

Illegal firewood collectors often target dry, dead standing trees, which provide important habitat to many of our threatened native species, including vulnerable small mammals and birds.

Offenders can face a fine of up to $9,087 and/or a year in prison, as well as risk losing the items used to commit offences, such as chainsaws, vehicles and other associated equipment.

Conservation Regulator, Parks Victoria and Forest Fire Management Victoria Authorised Officers will continue patrolling public land in Northern Victoria, targeting illegal firewood collection through Operation River Gum. Victoria Police is also providing support.

The community is encouraged to report suspected illegal firewood collection by calling 136 186.

The 2021 spring domestic firewood collection season runs from 1 September until 30 November, with designated collection areas and limits protecting the environment and community firewood resources.

For more information on where to collect visit ffm.vic.gov.au/firewood/firewood-collection-in-your-regionExternal Link .

Information about firewood collection rules be found at https://www.vic.gov.au/collecting-firewood.

“During our patrols we are finding many of the illegally felled trees are more than 100-years-old, so they won’t be replaced in our lifetime, or the next generation’s. These large, dead-standing-trees are disappearing unlawfully from the landscape, and we are committed to finding and penalising the offenders.”

Ash Bunce
Conservation Regulator Director Regulatory Operations

“Parks Victoria Authorised Officers are working with Victoria Police, the Conservation Regulator and the community in an effort to apprehend offenders and ensure prosecution to stop significant wildlife habitat loss and damage to Aboriginal cultural scar trees.”

Chris Mercier
Parks Victoria Acting Senior Manager Enforcement and Regulatory Services

Conservation Regulator Victoria

Reviewed 06 October 2021

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