Landowners who fill in burrows and “bury wombats alive” would face potential jail time, under a proposal from the South Australian Greens.

Key points:

  • The leader of the Greens has raised concerns about wombats being buried alive
  • She has introduced a bill to specifically ban filling in their burrows
  • The Department for Environment and Water is investigating the incident

Upper House MP Tammy Franks raised concerns about reports of burrows being filled in on a property near Mannum, in the state’s Murraylands, effectively trapping the animals underground.

“Unfortunately, some people feel they have the right to be cruel to animals,” the Greens leader said.

“Wombats being buried is not something new in South Australia, and it is cruel.

“The wombats can’t dig themselves out once they’re buried and they do indeed die slowly.”

Wombats are a protected species in South Australia, but their burrows can be impacted by farming and construction work.

Culling of the animals is allowed under certain circumstances and with a permit.

Tammy Franks standing inside Parliament House speaking

Greens MLC Tammy Franks wants police to be able to investigate wombat killings. (Supplied)

Call for specific law about filling burrows

But Ms Franks said such circumstances “never include filling in the burrow with a wombat in it”.

“I’m keen that we start to take animal cruelty and burying of wombats in their burrows seriously,” she said.

“At the moment, the Department [for Environment and Water] oversees this, and reports seem to be met with indifference.

“I’ll be bringing in a bill to put in the letter of the law that this is not only illegal but punishable by significant fines and imprisonment.

Ms Franks said the Wombat Awareness Organisation had reported the Murraylands incident to the RSPCA, SA Police and the environment department, but no action had so far been taken.

She said video footage showing the filled-in burrows had been provided to authorities.

A wombat

The southern hairy-nosed wombat is South Australia’s state animal.(Supplied: David Taggart)

Environment department investigating

RSPCA SA chief inspector Andrea Lewis said wombat burrows “typically fall into the jurisdiction of DEW”, which it was working with on an investigation.

Department for Environment and Water (DEW) chief executive John Schutz told state parliament’s Budget and Finance Committee today he “was not aware of the specific situation” in the Murraylands but would follow it up within his department.

“If we thought there were live wombats, we would work… to save those wombats… [with] the landowner, the wildlife groups, it just depends,” he said.

“We will investigate, and if there’s been a breach of the legislation, the full force of the legislation will be applied, and the person will be prosecuted.”

An online petition calling on the state government to protect wombat burrows under law has attracted close to 45,000 signatures.

A state government spokesman said: “If and when a bill is introduced into parliament, the government will give it due consideration before forming a position.”

A similar incident was reported to authorities in 2017, also relating to wombats on a property in the Murraylands.

Posted , updated 

Greens call for ban on filling in wombats’ burrows as Murraylands incident investigated
Source 1


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here