Rep­tiles nabbed in raids

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CHRIS McMA­HON

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.

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