Greens’ Animal Welfare spokesperson, Tammy Franks MLC has slammed the state Environment Department’s official media responses to allegations wombats have been buried alive in their burrows on a Murraylands property. The wombats’ homes have allegedly been filled in, in order to destroy them, which is not only inhumane but explicitly illegal.
Ms Franks explained: “So far, public statement responses from the Department have actually raised more questions than given answers about their own handling of this in response to growing public concern.
“On Thursday 24 August 2017 the DEWNR issued a statement that investigators ‘do not believe that any wombats are trapped underground’ but that seven dead wombats have been collected from the property.
“On Friday August 25 2017 we were further informed by DEWNR that the advice they had from some unidentified ‘wombat experts’ was that ‘any buried wombats would be able to dig themselves out’ and they had removed nine wombats.
“Well, which is it? Are there wombats buried trying to dig themselves out but the department is not concerned about that, or is there an assurance from the Department that they have taken all steps necessary to ensure the law has been upheld and no wombats were buried alive in the first place? When and how were the additional two wombats removed and are they dead or alive?
“Despite what the unnamed ‘wombat expert’ advised the department, they know full well that any action of burying wombats alive is illegal under the relevant state laws; this advice is quite clear on their own web site. So the question is: why is the department stating that an illegal act is somehow acceptable? Culling is lawful, cruelty is illegal.
“Why are illegal actions being defended with a dubious claim that wombats can somehow protect and save themselves? Is this not the department’s responsibility? They issue the permits, they have accountability to make sure those permits are enacted lawfully. That means not burying wombats alive and certainly not dismissing the severity of this cruelty if that is indeed what has occurred here.
“The Minister needs to call his department to account for their unacceptable statement," she concluded.
The maximum penalty for destroying a Southern Hairy Nose Wombat without a permit is $2,500 or 6 months imprisonment, with the court’s jurisdiction to impose additional penalties if more than one animal is involved. The permit requires that a killing be done through a shot to the wombat’s head or in the case of pouch young, decapitation is required. Even with a permit, it is illegal to bury wombats alive.