East Gippsland man convicted on eagle poisoning charges

By Geoff Adams

An East Gippsland landowner has been convicted 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 landowner was also convicted for failing to comply with conditions of an agricultural chemical user permit.

One of the penalties imposed was a contribution of $25 000 to be paid to wildlife groups.

The landowner pleaded guilty in the Bairnsdale Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday to six charges brought by Agriculture Victoria.

On two of the charges the landowner was convicted and placed on an adjourned undertaking for a period of 12 months.

The conditions of the undertaking are that the landowner must be of good behaviour and must pay $25 000 to the court fund to be distributed among appropriate wildlife groups in Gippsland. In addition, the landowner was ordered to pay department costs of $3870.

On the remaining four charges, the landowner 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 carcases 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.