Victorian woman charged with animal cruelty after almost 130 wedge-tailed eagles found dead

Victorian woman charged with animal cruelty after almost 130 wedge-tailed eagles found dead

A Victorian woman is facing almost 300 animal cruelty charges after wildlife officers allegedly found the carcasses of 140 protected native birds, including 128 wedge-tailed eagles, at her property.

The office of the conservation regulator said police, wildlife officers, and officials from the agriculture department searched the woman’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 breaches of the Wildlife Act 1975 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, including offences relating to poisoning the birds of prey.

The maximum penalty for killing native birds or being in possession of them without a licence carries hefty fines or penalties of up to two years in jail.

The woman will face court in Benalla next year. The chief conservation regulator, Kate Gavens, 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 concerns they will prey on lambs, but the department of environment, land, water and planning says the birds very rarely take healthy lambs and never full-grown sheep.

Wildlife experts have said killing the resident pair creates a territorial vacuum that encourages more birds to come.

To report wildlife crime contact CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.

This article was first published by The Guardian on 17 December 2020. Lead Image: A wedge-tailed eagle. A woman has been charged after the carcasses of protected birds including 128 of the eagles were allegedly found at her property in Violet Town, Victoria.

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