A land owner from East Gippsland was convicted yesterday for his involvement in the misuse of agricultural chemicals resulting in the poisoning of Wedge-tailed eagles on his properties between June 2017 and April 2018. The land owner was also convicted for failing to comply with conditions of an Agricultural Chemical User Permit (ACUP).
The land owner pleaded guilty in the Bairnsdale Magistrates Court to six charges brought by Agriculture Victoria under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992.
On two of the charges the land owner was convicted and placed on an adjourned undertaking for a period of 12 months. The conditions of the undertaking are that the land owner must be of good behaviour and must pay $25,000 to the court fund to be distributed amongst appropriate wildlife groups in Gippsland. In addition, the land owner was ordered to pay department costs of $3,870.
On the remaining four charges the land owner was convicted and sentenced to a Community Correction Order for a period of 12 months, under which they must perform 100 hours of unpaid community service work at the direction of Corrections Victoria.
The Magistrate described the offending as “calculated, unacceptable and disgraceful behaviour”.
In sentencing, the Magistrate also recognised the importance and value of the Wedge-tailed eagle to the community in general and, in particular, to the Indigenous community.
The charges followed a comprehensive investigation by Agriculture Victoria that included chemical analyses of Wedge-tailed eagle and sheep carcasses seized from the property. This case follows on from that of the farm manager, who pleaded guilty to two charges brought by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning under the Wildlife Act 1975 and was convicted for his involvement in this matter in September 2018, receiving 14 days imprisonment and a $2500 fine.
Agriculture Victoria Leading Chemical Standards Officer Natalie Myring said it was an offence for a person or persons to use illegal homemade baits under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992.
The investigation found that the land owner and farm manager were involved in the baiting of Wedgetailed eagles using sheep carcasses laced with an insecticide from June 2017 to May 2018.
Ms Myring said the use of illegal homemade baits poses an unacceptable risk to people, other animals and the environment.
“The land owner was also charged with involvement in the commission of an offence by the farm manager relating to his use of a Schedule 7 poison without appropriate authorisation,” she said. “There are strict controls that govern the legal use of Schedule 7 poisons under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992.
“It is an offence for a person to use any Schedule 7 poison without appropriate authorisation, such as an Agricultural Chemical User Permit (ACUP).”
The land owner was also charged with offences relating to non-compliance with storage and disposal requirements of 1080 pest animal bait products. These offences were identified as part of the investigation however they are not linked to the death of Wedge-tailed eagles.
Ms Myring said 1080 pest animal baits are important tools in protecting primary production and the environment, however, they must be used in strict accordance with the label and ‘The Directions for the Use of 1080 and PAPP Pest Animal Bait Products in Victoria’.
“In this case the land owner stored the 1080 baits in an insecure location that was accessible to unauthorised persons. The baits were also retained beyond the required disposal timeframe,” Ms Myring said.