Supercharged trespass laws and boosted fines for poaching and illegal hunting
Alex Druce from The Rural Land reports illegal hunting fines could double and a victim’s geographical isolation carry greater weight in sentencing as part of a crack-down on stock thieves, trespassers, and illegal hunters.
The review lays bare the “deep sense of anger and frustration” over crime in rural areas, as well as despair over perceived police inaction, and inadequate penalties “if indeed the matter gets to court”.
The review comes 18 months since ordering former cop Stephen Bradshaw to review rural crime in NSW. The review could not come soon enough for some rural areas that have been plagued with crime and resigned to the fact the crimes were not being dealt with.
In response to Mr Bradshaw’s 22 recommendations, government has proposed a new aggravated trespass offence for trespass crimes that include an enhanced biosecurity risk, an intent to engage in stock theft, or if there is hunting equipment present.
Stock theft has continued unabated in NSW this year with 1,717 cattle reported stolen between January and May, and 8,095 sheep – more than $2 million worth based on market conditions.
Meanwhile government also announced today it will push for police to have ‘increased flexibility’ to seize vehicles connected with a game hunting offence, and will push to double of the maximum penalty for illegal hunting on private land from $1,100 to $2,200.
Mr Bradshaw’s report illegal hunting was the only rural crime that has recorded consecutive rises over the past five years, with
incidents on average increasing by around 29 per cent per year.
The majority of these illegal hunting incidents involve the hunting of pigs with dogs, and in some instances, the hunting of both feral and native animals using a bow and arrow, Mr Bradshaw said.
During his time on the road with Barwon MP Kevin Humphries, Mr Bradshaw said he had been horrified by stories told about intimidation by illegal hunters, brazen thieves, property damage, and emotional stress.
He said he had also heard stories about hunting dogs killing animals on the outskirts of towns, drones casing properties and startling livestock, and criminals using travelling stock routes, mail roads, and gazetted roads to illegally hunt for pigs.
“Every meeting seemed to add a new issue – but in the main the issues raised were stock theft, stock ID, rural trespass – especially by (illegal) pig hunters and goat harvesters - and the response from police,” he said.