Breaking! 219 Native Animals Including Venomous Reptiles Recovered From Illegal Smuggling Attempt In Western Australia

Photos from WA Police Force

In what has been deemed the largest seizure of native animals in Western Australia’s history, a staggering 219 animals have been recovered from an alleged smuggling operation after being discovered in a vehicle near Eucla.

After stopping the speeding vehicle on Eyre Highway, WA Police Force found 15 large bags and around 15 plastic containers and bottles containing 198 reptiles, of which 58 are venomous, 16 marsupials, three cockroaches and two spiders.

WA Police Force seized the animals and handed them to the Parks and Wildlife Service for identification, a health assessment, and holding. The animals are being assessed by vets at Perth Zoo.

WA Police Force is leading the investigation into the unlawful possession and animal welfare cruelty of native wildlife, which is protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950.

According to Wildlife Officer Cameron Craigie, many of the animals were found in small bags placed on top of each other and were in very cramped and inhumane conditions.

“Unfortunately, when found, several of the animals were already dead or were in very poor health. As such we have had to euthanize the ones that were severely compromised,” Craigie said in a statement noting that most of the animals found were from the Wheatbelt, Goldfields, and South Coast regions. “This illegal activity poses a significant risk to the animals’ welfare, which is rarely considered by offenders and we have seen reptiles smuggled in inhumane conditions for extended periods of time without food or water, in extremes of temperature and generally with rough handling and treatment.”

“Any animals that do survive are usually purchased and sold on the black market into collections that are often not subject to regulations or welfare monitoring by Government authorities,” continued Craigie who explained that WA’s animals are particularly sought after and fetch premium prices due to the high levels of biodiversity and the large color variations throughout different regions of the State.”

The maximum penalty for illegally exporting, importing, and possessing wildlife under the Wildlife Conservation Act is $4000.00 or $10,000.00 for specially protected species.

The new Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 contains significantly increased penalties for offenses that involve the taking or disturbing of our native biodiversity. The penalties for taking a critically endangered species will be up to $500,000.00 for an individual and $2.5 million for an offense by a body corporate once this legislation is fully proclaimed.

People should report any suspicious behavior to WA Police as noted on the department’s website or the Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055.

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