A Victorian woman faces almost 300 charges of animal cruelty after wildlife officers allegedly found the carcasses of 140 endangered native birds, including 128 wedge-tailed eagles, on her farm.
The Conservation Regulator’s Office said that police, wildlife officers and agricultural officials searched the women’s property in Violet Town in August after a number of dead wedge-tailed eagles were found in the area.
She has been charged with 291 infringements of the Wildlife Act 1975 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, including the poisoning of birds of prey.
The criminal punishment for killing or being in possession of native birds without a licence shall be high fines or penalties of up to two years in prison.
The woman will face the Benalla court next year. Kate Gavens, Chief Conservation Regulator, said her office took matters like this “very seriously.”
“Wedge-tailed eagles are Victoria’s largest bird of prey and an important part of our environment,” Gavens said. “This investigation shows the conservation regulator’s commitment to combating wildlife crime and protecting the iconic wedge-tailed eagle.”
Wedge-tailed eagles are seen as a pest by some farmers because of fears that they will prey on lambs, but the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning says that birds rarely attack healthy lambs and never whole-grown sheep.
Wildlife experts have said that killing a resident pair creates a territorial void that allows more birds to come.
To report wildlife crime, please call CrimeStoppers at 1800 333 000.