All sorts of things are seized during police raids.
Drugs and firearms are common but police are increasingly finding captured wildlife as well.
Police hand over the illegally obtained wildlife to the care of the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water.
The department randomly holds ballots so licensed fauna holders can take possession of native reptiles that were either seized during law enforcement investigations, discovered by rangers or surrendered to animal shelters.
All reptiles seized in Sydney are taken to the department’s Hurstville office.
Wildlife licensing and management unit manager Ron Haering said the Hurstville office was vigilant about finding new homes for the captured reptiles.
“We often don’t know where these reptiles have come from, so we can’t just put them out into the wild,” Mr Haering said.
“After they have been kept in a home, they won’t know how to survive in the world and it’s not safe, so they’re better off staying in the hobby community with someone who has a licence.”
Seven native reptiles were up for grabs on Tuesday with online forums, such as Aussie Pythons & Snakes, buzzing with excitement as successful winners shared the results of the ballot.
Lisa Hill of Fairfield Heights received an eastern small blotched python, after learning about the ballot on an online forum.
“This is the first time I’ve been successful with a ballot, so I’m quite happy I got my first pick,” Ms Hill said. “Collecting reptiles has become a bit of an addiction. I already have a range of pythons and this makes it my tenth one.”
Under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, native fauna (birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals) are protected in NSW. The penalty for harming or possessing protected fauna is a maximum fine of $11,000 or six months’ jail.
“Licensing laws have been in place since 1997 and people need to have one,” Mr Haering said. “It’s often the case that people just don’t bother to get a licence.”
There are more than 20,000 licence holders in NSW, with reptile licences accounting for the majority (15,000).
Mr Haering said ballots were held whenever reptiles were seized or surrendered.
“We are never left with an unwanted reptile as they are quite popular amongst collectors,” Mr Haering said. “As soon as we let people know we have some up for grabs, it’s never too long before the reptiles are picked up.”
Photo and article courtesy www.theleader.com.au
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