Reptiles nabbed in raids
TWO men caught smuggling reptiles from the Northern Territory and into Queensland have had their homes raided, with police uncovering more protected animals.
The pair were caught in Mount Isa last Thursday allegedly in possession of a number of protected species they did not have licences to have.
It is understood the men had driven from Brisbane and made their way to the Northern Territory, taking the reptiles from their natural habitats and putting them in small plastic containers.
It will be alleged the pair were on their way back to Brisbane when they were stopped by two officers from Mount Isa police who searched their car and found 32 animals, including frogs, snakes and lizards.
The pair were arrested and police raided their homes in southeast Queensland, uncovering more protected animals.
A total of 32 snakes, 31 lizards, two frogs and a spider were seized by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
A 19- year- old Dalby man and a 27- year- old Lower Beechmont man have been charged with nine counts of restriction on keeping or using a taken protected animal.
Detective acting Sergeant Jarrod Horne said police would allege the pair had taken the reptiles from their natural habitats while on a road trip.
“We will allege they’ve done a large trip, they’ve left Brisbane, gone down through the southwest of Queensland, up through Mount Isa, into the Northern Territory, down to Alice Springs, and then come back through Mount Isa,” Sgt Horne said.
“They were on their way back when we caught them, stopped overnight on the side of the road.
“By the time we caught them, they’d already done the pilfering and were on their way back home … it certainly wasn’t just our community affected, it was the whole southwest, central and North Queensland and then into the Northern Territory.”
He said police would inves- tigate whether the pair had been selling them to other collectors, but at this stage it appeared as if they were just reptile enthusiasts.
“It appears they are a couple of really enthusiastic reptile owners, they do have certain restricted licences, but they’re not licensed to be taking animals from the bush for their own collection,”
“We are going to be making inquiries to make sure they aren’t onselling them, that will open up another avenue, but at this time the investigation has concluded they were just taking them for personal use.”
Environment Minister Steven Miles said wildlife officers had already returned a number of reptiles to the wild.
“The good news is that some of the seized reptiles, including a knob tail gecko were returned to the wild almost immediately into areas of suitable habitat,” Mr Miles said.
You can report incidents of wildlife related crime to the EHP by calling 1300 130 372, or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
The pair will appear in Mount Isa Magistrates Court on August 7.