WA, 28 March 2012
Officers from the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) and Customs and Border Protection have seized three snakes in two separate raids in Kambalda in the Goldfields region of Western Australia, including an exotic corn snake that is native to North America.
Exotic Corn Snake (Pantherophis Guttatus)
This is a photo of an exotic Corn Snake which are highly valued by collectors in Australia and other countries due to their attractive snake skin patterns in orange and black. The Corn Snake also comes in a white with orange skin. The Corn Snake is highly illegal in Australia.
Exotic Corn Snake
Government authorities were alerted to the illegally kept snakes and executed search warrants on the two properties yesterday.
A juvenile corn snake and a black-headed python, which is native to WA but was being held illegally, were seized at one address, while a native south west carpet python was discovered being illegally held at another residence. The two seizures were not related.
Customs and Border Protection Acting National Manager Investigations Ross Viles said the illegal importation of exotic species posed a serious biosecurity risk as they could introduce diseases and compete with native animals for food and habitat.
“Customs and Border Protection works closely with other Commonwealth and state agencies such as DEC to combat the unlawful importation and exportation of wildlife,” Mr Viles said.
DEC wildlife officer Matt Swan said black-headed and south west carpet pythons were protected fauna under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950. The south west carpet pythons are listed as a threatened species.
“It is an offence to take these species from the wild or be in possession of them unlawfully, and it is also illegal to buy reptiles from anyone other than a licensed reptile dealer and to keep reptiles without a licence,” he said.
“Wildlife smuggling is a serious problem and DEC takes the unlawful possession of protected reptiles and reptile trafficking very seriously. My advice to anyone tempted to capture reptiles they encounter in the wild is to leave them alone.”
Investigations are continuing and charges are yet to be laid. The snakes are now in the possession of DEC.
The maximum penalties for import or export related offences under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 are 10 years imprisonment or a fine of $110,000, or both.
Illegal Movement of Reptiles in Australia
Under WA’s Wildlife Conservation Act the maximum penalty for taking or possessing protected fauna is $4000, for taking or possessing threatened species is $10,000 and for keeping fauna in captivity is $2000.
People with information about the illegal removal of reptiles or notices any suspicious activity suggesting that reptiles are being illegally moved or kept should call DEC's Wildcare hotline 9474 9055.