Wildlife officers from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s (DELWP) Grampians Region, with the support of Victoria Police, have seized marbled geckos (Christinus marmoratus), suspected to have been collected unlawfully late last week.
“The marbled geckos were recovered during a search operation, which we believe were taken from the Mount Alexander Regional Park near Harcourt,” said DELWP senior wildlife officer Paul Ryan.
“It is alleged that a man from Dunnstown near Ballarat collected the geckos without a licence, permit or authority to take or keep protected wildlife.
“The man was formally interviewed and was co-operative.”
DELWP program manager Jim O’Brien said the taking of wildlife was a serious matter.
Anyone found illegally taking reptiles from public or private land also risks having personal property and vehicles that have been used to assist taking the reptiles from the wild seized.
“The illegal taking and trading of wildlife threatens our native species and their habitats,” Mr O’Brien said.
“DELWP will be implementing a state-wide operation, ‘Operation Granite’, in response to an increase in reptiles being taken from the wild and associated damage to prime reptile habitat.”
“The aim of Operation Granite is to work with our partner agencies, such as Parks Victoria and local community groups, to gather information on this type of activity and investigate possible breaches of the Wildlife Act 1975.
“DELWP will continue to investigate and take action against anyone who unlawfully interferes with, takes, trades or keeps protected wildlife without having the appropriate wildlife licence”.
The maximum penalty for taking wildlife from the wild is a fine of $7,773 or six months’ imprisonment, or both.
The maximum penalty for being in possession of wildlife unlawfully taken from the wild is a fine of $37,310 or two-years’ imprisonment, or both.
Information from the public plays a vital role in protecting our wildlife.
If you suspect someone of being involved in these activities please call 136 186. All information is treated as confidential and can be provided anonymously.