Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has welcomed the successful passing of the Wildlife (Powers) Amendment Bill’s third reading in Parliament this evening.
The bill modernises and strengthens DOC rangers' existing powers to protect native wildlife from poaching and smuggling.
“This legislation is an important part of upgrading DOC’s ability to prevent and prosecute crimes against vulnerable native species such as geckoes and skinks,” Ms Barry says.
“Enforcement powers in the Wildlife Act have not been updated for 60 years and are no longer fit for modern purpose. I am pleased this carefully targeted and sensible expansion of the powers available to DOC under the Act will now become law.”
The bill grants four new powers to DOC rangers:
- The ability to take action to prevent an offence about to occur or in progress.
- Temporarily stop persons suspected of an offence to allow investigation.
- Seize a broader range of evidence such as laptops, cameras and mobile phones.
- Require date of birth and proof of identification details from suspected offenders.
Full-time Fish and Game rangers have also had an extension of powers. They can now require people to give their date of birth, as well as their name and address.
Failure to provide these details can result in a fine under the Wildlife Act not exceeding $100,000 and/or 1 year imprisonment.
DOC’s small highly experienced team of specialist enforcement officers will also now gain a power to arrest for serious offending against absolutely protected wildlife involving illegal hunting, killing, or export.
“This power will also be extended to qualified officers from Crown agencies including Police, Customs, Fisheries, and the Defence Forces that work with DOC on joint operations.”