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WA wildlife smuggling sentence sparks warning.



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MEDIA RELEASE Minister for Justice and Customs

Senator the Hon. Amanda Vanstone  Senator for South Australia

   46 /2000 Thursday 16 March 2000

WA wildlife smuggling sentence sparks warning  

A lengthy jail sentence in WA yesterday for a man convicted of trying to smuggle wildlife out of the country should send a warning to visitors about Australia’s determination to protect its native wildlife, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Amanda Vanstone, said today.

Senator Vanstone was commenting after a German national, 36, was sentenced in Perth District Court to two and half years jail on charges relating to the illegal export of native wildlife. The man pleaded guilty to the charges, as well as to two charges relating to cruelty.

The charges followed the discovery of attempts to export more than 80 native snakes and lizards at Geraldton (WA) on Christmas Eve 1999.

"This prosecution by Customs demonstrates the success of our border protection systems, even in isolated areas, and of Australia’s determination to protect our native wildlife," Senator Vanstone said.

"Wildlife smuggling is inevitably cruel because of the stresses that animals are put through by smugglers attempting to evade authorities.

"The reality is that many animals die before reaching overseas, and many of those that do arrive safely are unable to adapt to new climates.

"Today there is another reality too. It is that people will get caught, and they will go to jail for a long time. The risk is high for anyone involved in this unacceptable trade."

The illegal export of wildlife carries a penalty of up to $110,000 and 10 years’ jail or both for individuals. Fines of up to $550,000 apply for companies convicted of illegal export of wildlife.

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Minister available through Kevin Donnellan 0419 400 078