Backyard turtle haul follows DPI investigation

5 Oct 2018

Two officers in waders enter an enclosed pond with retrieval gear

Following reports from the community and an extensive investigation by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), a raid was undertaken on a residential property in south west Sydney this week, resulting in the seizure of 90 Red-eared slider turtles and two large Alligator snapping turtles.

DPI’s Acting Deputy Director General of Biosecurity and Food Safety, Brett Fifield said this is a great example of citizen led biosecurity, which helps protects the economy, environment and community.

“DPI’s Biosecurity and Food Safety Compliance Officers received a tip off from a member of the community, who was concerned that high-risk invasive turtles were being kept illegally on a residential property in Milperra,” Mr Fifield said.

“A compliance operation was initiated in collaboration with Greater Sydney Local Land Services and NSW Police Rural Crime Investigator and this week these serious invasive pest animals were seized, tested for disease and destroyed.

“The 90 Red-eared slider turtles are a species that originate from the eastern and central United States of America and it is an offence to keep, move, buy, sell, breed or otherwise deal with them unless authorised.

“The two large Alligator snapping turtles weighed 8.6kg and 13.7kg and are considered to be extremely dangerous as they are capable of delivering a powerful bite which could easily inflict a serious wound, and have been known to amputate fingers and toes.

“DPI is constantly on the lookout for pests, diseases, weeds and contaminants and I thank those members of the public, who are true biosecurity warriors, for reporting non-native birds, reptiles, mammals and amphibians that are being kept illegally, offered for sale online, or have been spotted in the open environment.”

Significant maximum penalties apply for breaches of the Biosecurity Act with fines of up to $1.1 million for an individual and/or three years imprisonment for serious offences.

These penalties reflect the high risk and impact of people involved in risky biosecurity activities. DPI is continuing its investigation.

Under no circumstances should unwanted pet animals be dumped in our environment as it is cruel to the animal and causes significant biosecurity risks.

Any information on the keeping, movement, sale or breeding of invasive pest animals, should be reported to DPI by completing the unusual animal sighting reporting form.

Media contact: Jamie Jones, 0417 735 703