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Parks off limits to poachers

News release
23 February 2015

Kangaroo Island’s parks and reserves have been the recent target of vandalism and marron poaching. There’s been an increase in the number of offences occurring on a regular basis in the Rocky River Precinct in Flinders Chase National Park, the Southwest River in Kelly Hill Conservation Park and Western River tributaries in Western River Wilderness Protection Area (WPA).

The latest incident occurred in Western River WPA. Part of this area is closed to manage the risk to public safety during the last stages of the feral goat control programme, which involves the use of high powered firearms by feral animal control officers. Rangers on a routine patrol located a Kangaroo Island man poaching marron in the Western River WPA. Although closure signs are in place, an entry gate had been forced open. The offender was issued with expiation notices for a number of offences totalling in excess of $700. A number of pots were seized as evidence and the marron were photographed and destroyed.

The newly upgraded facilities of the Platypus Waterholes in Flinders Chase National Park were also recently targeted. Park staff have removed marron pots and bags of rotting fish heads left at the waterholes, while the walking trail and signs have been damaged by a vehicle driving through native vegetation to gain access to the main bridge.

The Rocky River is one of the few places where platypus are found in South Australia. Platypus will drown if trapped in enclosed marron pots. These pots also catch other native species and the fragile riparian (riverside) habitat is damaged when placing them. It is an offence to fish for and take any animal (including introduced species) from any river system within a park on KI.

Other incidents at Flinders Chase over summer include a break-in and batteries stolen from a water monitoring shed and significant damage was done to the open grasslands near Mays Cottage by vehicles.

‘Not only do these activities cause damage to park facilities and infrastructure, they also threaten native plants and wildlife and could cause human injury or even death’, said Rob Ellis, Manager Land and Visitor Management, Natural Resources Kangaroo Island (Natural Resources KI).

Most KI residents are immensely proud of our natural heritage and park visitors value the experience and appreciate the unique opportunities parks provide for interaction with pristine environments. People are reminded however, that some activities are offences and may result in on-the-spot fines or prosecution. For example, it is an offence to:• enter or remain in a Wilderness Protection Area or Reserve when it is closed to the public• take, injure, molest or interfere with an animal in a WPA or Reserve• have control of, carry or use a trapping device in a WPA or Reserve• drive/ride/tow a vehicle in an unauthorised or closed area.

South Australia Police and PIRSA Fisheries are working with Natural Resources staff in investigating these incidents. PIRSA Fisheries are concerned with reports that people are accessing parks to catch marron and sell them on the island. Senior Fisheries Officer, Marg Rowley said,‘Heavy penalties apply in relation to purchasing, selling or having possession or control of aquatic resources taken illegally. Fines can be up to $20,000 or two years imprisonment’.

Rangers have also increased patrols, supported by the use of electronic surveillance devices.‘It is really disappointing that some residents and visitors don’t value our public reserves’, said Ranger-In-Charge, Caroline Paterson.

‘Kangaroo Island’s protected areas are such an important part of our local community. Apart from supporting ecological systems and biodiversity, the parks employ many local residents, provide commercial business opportunities and are a major tourism drawcard. They provide recreation, education and health benefits for all users.’

The community can assist by reporting any incidents of trespass or vandalism and by ensuring that locals and visitors are aware of the impacts of unauthorised access and illegal trapping.

If you have any information about any of the incidents mentioned above or any other instances of trespass or vandalism, please contact us.