Judy Edwards, farmer at Tubbut, was charged $10,000 in the Orbost Court on 5th December 2019 under the Wildlife Act and the prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. She is a neighbour of John Auer who is accused of poisoning over 400 Wedge-tailed Eagles.
Judy Edwards was up on 36 charges but some had been withdrawn and the remaining five saw her charged under both the Wildlife Act and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Officers from DELWP and police raided her property last year and found 74 dead birds were found. Many were stuffed into chaff bags and hidden in windrows of cleared vegetation. This included five Wedge Tailed Eagles, 39 butcher birds, cockies, native water birds and other protected avian species. There were also 80 steel jawed traps found (now illegal to use) and two areas where there were 12 active traps set around carcasses.
Two ravens that had been dead for less than a week were analysed and a dead fox with a broken front and back leg was found. All had been trapped and it was described as having inflicted ‘horrendous’ cruelty.
There was no licence or authority obtained to kill protected native animals. This woman has been farming in the Tubbut area for 64 years.
The maximum penalty for the five charges was $167,000 or four and a half years’ imprisonment.
The prosecution for DELWP said Judy Edwards had “complete disregard for the legislation” and that the traps were illegal, inhumane and non-target specific. He handed the magistrate a series of photos showing the active traps placed around three lamb carcasses. The prosecutor said there are other options for dealing with wildlife but she had never contacted DELWP.
In sentencing, Magistrate Garnett said it was a difficult decision and he took into account the seriousness of the charges as well as her age and personal circumstances. He would otherwise be inclined to give a custodial (jail) sentence and a $15,000 fine. Instead he fined her $10,000.
The moral of this story? If you want to illegally trap and kill Eagles and other native birds with steel jawed traps, get your Granny to do it!