Tough punishments for wildlife smugglers
Tue, 11 Sep 2012 4:51p.m.
The Government is set to introduce tough new measures for people caught attempting to smuggle native wildlife out of the country.
The Wildlife (Smuggling Deterrence) Amendment Bill will increase the maximum penalty for smuggling native animals like tuatara, parrots and geckos from six months imprisonment or a $100,000 fine to up to five years imprisonment and/or a $300,000 fine.
The penalties are even tougher than Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson had indicated during the election campaign, which was doubling the maximum prison term and fine to three years and $200,000.
"This is an important message to send to potential smugglers...that taking our precious wildlife will not be tolerated," Ms Wilkinson said.
"Increasing the fines and prison terms will show them they will pay a hefty price for these despicable acts."
The bill will also allow certain Department of Conservation rangers limited powers of arrest to ensure smugglers can't escape before police arrive.
The department has successfully brought four prosecutions involving seven foreign nationals and 68 lizards since 2010.
In May, German man Andreas Hahn was sentenced to four months in prison after admitting taking four endangered jewelled geckos from Banks Peninsula.
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11/09/2012 5:47:16 p.m.
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