Calls for tougher sanctions in Tasmania as second wedge-tailed eagle found ‘riddled with lead’
A wedge-tailed eagle riddled with shotgun pellets has been found alive in southern Tasmania just a week after a dead eagle was discovered with its claws chopped off in the state’s northeast.
$ 20,000 reward offered for information leading to conviction of person who shot the eagle
The bird should survive but may never be released back into the wild
This is the second incident in Tasmania in two weeks involving the endangered white-tailed eagle
“It’s just never ending,” said Craig Webb, director of Raptor Refuge.
Mr Webb said the bird was found in Birchs Bay by a local owner who watches three eagles that live in the area.
“One of them was on a low branch and fell from the tree and [was] a kind of struggle along the paddock and [the property owner] called me and we talked about it and went down to save him, ”he said.
Mr Webb said x-rays revealed the bird was “riddled with shotgun pellets.”
He said it was not clear if the eagle would need surgery.
“It’s not in a good way so we’ll do what we can.” he said.
Mr Webb said he expected the eagle to survive, but there was only a 50:50 chance that it could be released into the wild.
Mr Webb said he was outraged that someone took down an endangered species.
He offers a reward of $ 20,000 to anyone with information “which leads to the conviction of this muppet who shot the bird.”
Mr Webb said four eagles had been found dead in Tasmania in the past two weeks – one was shot, the other three most likely collided with power lines.
One of the dead birds was found with its claws cut off.
“It is a shocking state of affairs,” said Mr. Webb.
Endangered species scientist Sally Bryant said there had been a cultural shift away from the shooting, poisoning and trapping of eagles.
“[But] it only takes a small number of people who are still engaged in illegal activities to have a real impact on an endangered species, ”said Dr. Bryant.
“We have to learn to talk about crimes and illegal activities like this.”
More severe penalties are needed
Dr Bryant calls for increased sentences and prison terms.
Killing or interfering with native wildlife is illegal in Tasmania without the corresponding license or permit.
A person convicted of taking – which includes injury – an endangered species without a permit under the Endangered Species Protection Act can face fines of up to $ 108,188 and / or up to 12 months in prison, ”said a spokeswoman for the Department of the Environment.
“A person convicted of aggravated cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act can face fines of up to $ 34,400 and / or up to five years in prison.”
Sanctions under other laws and regulations may also apply.
Dr Bryant also called for recruiting more wildlife law enforcement staff “so they can be in the community and get prosecutions when this kind of activity happens.”
She praised Mr. Webb for saving the wedge-tailed eagle.
“His chances of being rehabilitated are so slim, and there are months, months and months of work to bring this animal back to a point where it could even be released,” she said.
Information on suspected wildlife offenses can be provided anonymously to the department’s investigations section on 0417 661 234 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.