Between October 2016 and April 2018 a man named Murray James Silvester deliberately baited and poisoned over 400 Wedge-tailed eagles. He killed these magnificent birds and the hid the carcasses whilst he was employed as a farm hand in Gippsland, Victorias south-east.
Aside from the eagles other protected species were also found including Kookaburras, Ravens and various other raptor species.
What the punishment could of been.
In Victoria Australia the maximum penalty for killing a protected species is 6 months jail and an $8,000 fine. If more than one offence has occurred an additional $800 per head can he fined. This means at the minimum he should of been sentenced to 6 months in prison and a $332,000 fine.
In 1998 Wedge-tailed eagles were listed as Notable wildlife . The killing of notable wildlife comes with a maximum 12 months jail and a $190,000 fine. This means he could of spent up to 18 months in jail and received a fine of over half a million dollars at the maximum.
So what did he get?
Mr. Silvester was sentenced to a measly 14 days in jail and a $2,500 fine. This equates to around one hour and $6 per bird. To me, this is woefully inadequate and has been slammed by animal rights groups around the country. What's worse is, in Victoria this is a good outcome as up until now not a single person has served a custodial sentence for either killing native wildlife, or for animal cruelty. It is a "step forward" some have said but it is but the smallest of steps.
What is the point in having these punishments if they can't be used? See I don't mind if you go out hunting and accidentally kill an eagle. You should receive a fine and a warning. But to go out of your way to kill over 400 of them on purpose deserves far more in my opinion.
I guess it hurts more because I know how hard myself and other people work to rehabilitate and re-introduce just one of our native animals back into the wild. depending on the age or injury it can take up to 2 years for just one animal. the fact all of that can be undermined by one person and then they aren't even punished as per the la, honestly makes me feel a bit sick.