Wildlife keeper convicted over reptile cruelty

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

Tuesday, 16 November 2021 at 6:38 am

Conservation Regulator Authorised Officers executed a search warrant on the man’s house in 2019. There, they discovered dead and severely injured reptiles. This was 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. This is 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 due to a range of factors. These included poor mental health, loss of business and relationships and his early guilty plea.

The man pleaded guilty to offences under the Wildlife Act 1975(opens in a new window), Wildlife Regulations 2013(opens in a new window) and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986(opens in a new window).

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

The Werribee man came to the Conservation Regulator’s attention during Operation SHEFFIELD. This was a joint wildlife trafficking investigation with the 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. This resulted in the trafficking of hundreds of Australian native reptiles to Hong Kong.

The Conservation Regulator has continued its focus on wildlife crime. They recently launched the 'Break the Chain' campaign with Crime Stoppers Victoria and Agriculture Victoria. Anyone with information about wildlife crime is urged to contact Crime Stoppers(opens in a new window) online or via 1800 333 000.

To apply for a wildlife licence or to find out more about the legal keeping of wildlife, visit Wildlife Licences and Permits.

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.

Kate GavensChief Conservation Regulator
Conservation Regulator Victoria