A shingleback lizard (Tiliqua rugosa) taken from the wild to be kept in captivity in a Wodonga home has been returned to its natural habitat thanks to information from the public. The case is one of a number of incidents in the Hume region in the past month with another two animals suspected of being taken from the wild — a children’s Python (Antaresia childreni) in Benalla and a carpet python (Morelia spilota) in Chiltern.
All three native species are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and should not be taken from wild populations.
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) senior wildlife officer Leigh Murray said after a short investigation the lizard was forfeited and released back into the wild.
‘‘The first-time offender was given a warning letter and understands that they cannot take animals from the wild,’’ Mr Murray said.
‘‘Certain native animals can be kept with a licence but they must be obtained legally from wildlife bred in captivity.
‘‘If DELWP can identify where these illegal animals have been obtained from, and are suitable to be released, they will be returned to point of capture and released.
‘‘The regulations and licences are to ensure wild populations of native species are protected.
‘‘Despite being common domestic pets, some native species remain threatened in the wild such as the carpet python, so it is important that these animals remain in their home ranges.
‘‘The maximum penalty for illegally possessing protected wildlife is $7773 and/or six months’ imprisonment.The maximum penalty for possessing threatened species of wildlife is $37310 and/or 24 months’ imprisonment.’’
If people are aware of wildlife that has been taken or suspected of being taken from wild populations, please report this to DELWP’s customer service centre on 136186. Information can be provided anonymously, however officers may need details to follow up on the initial report. All information is treated confidentially.