An ignorant crime against wildlife in NP

The local Blue Mountains Gazette newspaper of the Blue Mountains (west of Sydney) yesterday reported the harming of wildlife in the Blue Mountains National Park (read below).

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$100 REWARD


Disgusted at this wildlife crime,  the editor is offering a one-off reward of $100

for the identification of the offender(s) responsible for this wildlife bashing

and its reporting to the National Parks and Wildlife office at Blackheath, which secures a conviction.

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Contact the editor : info@habitatadvocate.com.au

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Snake bludgeoned at Blackheath

by Krystyna Pollard (journalist), 20110202, page 11.

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‘National parks officers have condemned the brutal bludgeoning of a female (eastern) brown snake carrying 19 eggs at Blackheath’s Evans Lookout.

The snake was found on January 13 by a member of the public in her nest alive but with a broken back, according to National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) ranger Vanessa Richardson.

“This brown snake had lived in the vicinity of Evans Lookout for over five years and lived harmoniously with many visitors who appreciated observing her in the natural environment,” she said in a statement.

“She was well known to NPWS staff and many tour operators enjoyed taking visitors to the site to see a real Australian snake in the wild.”

The snake was taken for treatment, however vets were unable to save her, Vanessa said.

“She was carrying 19 eggs, which were taken to a licensed reptile carer but unfortunately the eggs have collapsed and all eggs have failed,” she said.

“The end result of this is not the death of one brown snake but 20.

“The event has saddened local NPWS staff and wildlife carers and I would urge anyone with information on who may have harmed the snake to come forward.”

While snakes were not as popular with the community as other native wildlife, the NPWS reminded people that all native animals in NSW were protected and each had an important role to play in the ecosystem, Vanessa said.

“I understand if some members of the community are concerned by snakes if they happen upon them inside their homes,” she said.

“However in their natural environment they are overwhelmingly docile unless provoked. In fact most people that get bitten by snakes do so when trying to catch them, annoy them or kill them.

“Snakes preserve their venom to kill prey not people. If you leave them alone it is extremely unlikely they will do you any harm.”

Those caught harming wildlife face on-the-spot fines of up to $500. Higher penalties can be imposed by courts.

Anyone with information about the attack should contact the NPWS Blackheath office on 4787-8877.’

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Comment:

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This is a deplorable crime against wildlife in native and protected habitat.  All flora and fauna in National Parks are protected from harm or disturbance.

In New South Wales under the National Parks and Wildlife Act (1974) Section 98(2), it is unlawful to harm protected fauna. Do do so attracts  100 penalty units and/or a6 month custodial sentence.

As at 7th December 2010, under the Crimes (Setencing Procedure) Act 1999 Section 17, this fine equates to $11,000 (100 penalty units  multiplied by $110).

Hopefully, witnesses will come forward so that the perpetrators may be brought to justice, charged and convicted.

The introduced settler culture of Australia’s colonial history, ignorantly perceived Australian wildlife as vermin.  The Australian bush and its native flora and fauna, rather than being respected, have long been detested by new arrivals.  Such has been the immature misunderstanding due to ignorance.  The abnormal fear of snakes (‘ophidiophobia‘) has been at the extreme.  Henry Lawson’s 1892 short story ‘The Drover’s Wife’ most famously fueled this cultural fear as he described the snake in the story as having “an evil pair of small, bright bead-like eyes“, as “the enemy”  and as the ..”original curse  in common with mankind.”

In 2011 in national parks, most of us have surely developed a healthy respect for wildlife and its existence rights.  As wildlife habitat shrinks and comes under increasing human threat, is it not humans whom are nature’s vermin?

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Australia’s Eastern Brown Snake tends to inhabit grasslands and Dry Scheropyll forests situated in dry locations especially with rocky outcrops.

“It is a highly nervous, swift moving and alert snake which usually prefers to prevent confrontations with home owners. It is very quick to flee when seen or threatened but when cornered or attacked can be an explosive snake which will repeatedly lunge and defend vigorously.”

It’s diet is preference to lizards, frogs, other snakes, bird nestlings and baby rabbits, and small rodents such as rats and is therefore valuable in controlling pest species.  Mating occurs in October to late Spring females oviduucal eggs are seen in late November to December.

Eastern Brown Snake
Cresent Head NSW
© Photo by ‘Bev’
http://habitatnetwork.org/PhotoPages/Member-and-AnimalPhotos.htm#E
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References:

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[1]  Blue Mountains Gazette, p.11, ‘Snake Bludgeoned at Blackheath‘, by Krystyna Pollard, http://www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au/news/local/news/general/snake-bludgeoned-at-blackheath/2064355.aspx

[2]  Snake Handler.com.au,  http://www.snakehandler.com.au/?pid=main&p=30

[3]  HabitatNetwork.org  http://habitatnetwork.org/PhotoPages/Member-and-AnimalPhotos.htm#E

[3] National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974,  Specific Penalties and Orders, Judicial Commission of NSW, http://www.judcom.nsw.gov.au/publications/benchbks/local/National_Parks_and_Wildlife_Act.html

[4]  CRIMES (SENTENCING PROCEDURE) ACT 1999, Section 17 ‘Penalty Units’, http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/cpa1999278/

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