An exotic non-native reptile amnesty launches today in an attempt to protect our native wildlife.
Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Leanne Donaldson said the Queensland exotic reptile amnesty, which runs until10 June 2016, allows people to hand in non-native reptiles (turtles, lizards, snakes) penalty free before the implementation of the Biosecurity Act 2014 on 1 July.
“It’s illegal to keep non-native reptiles as pets in Queensland as they pose a real threat to our native wildlife,” the Minister said.
“A single pregnant snake or turtle could establish a population that could out compete native species and be impossible to eradicate.
“Exotic reptiles also carry diseases that, if introduced into Queensland, have the potential to wipe out native reptiles.
“Under the new laws harsher penalties will apply to those keeping declared pests in Queensland, including jail time.”
Dr John Robertson, General Manager for Invasive Plant and Animals with Biosecurity Queensland, said that his team have responded to incidents involving a range of non-native reptiles that have been found at large in urban areas.
“Most of the exotic reptiles we find are the result of illegal pets escaping or being dumped,” Dr Robertson said.
“Since 2013 we have found five American corn snakes, four boa constrictors, a Chinese stripe necked turtle, a South East Asian box turtle and two red eared slider turtles in the community.”
Ms Donaldson said the purpose of the Queensland exotic reptile amnesty is to allow people to surrender any non-native reptile pets they have without the fear of prosecution.
She said surrender sites had been established in consultation with local councils and can be found across the state during the amnesty period.
“I’m encouraging people to make the right choice when considering the purchase of a pet, and asking those who are keeping non-native reptiles to use this opportunity to hand them in, penalty free,” Minister Donaldson said.
For more information and to find out where you can surrender non-native reptiles during the amnesty visthttps://www.daf.qld.gov.au/plants/weeds-pest-animals-ants/reptile-amnesty
or call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.