Man charged over alleged killing of wedge-tailed eagles in Gippsland

A man has been charged over the deaths of numerous wedge-tailed eagles on a property in East Gippsland.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning revealed on Wednesday a man had been arrested, charged and bailed over the deaths of the protected birds.

"Yesterday, two initial charges were filed, under the Wildlife Act 1975, in relation to the deaths of numerous wedge-tailed eagles in East Gippsland," a statement from the department read.

Piles of dead eagles were found hidden on a farm in Tubbut in far East Gippsland, along with the carcasses of four other protected bird species.

Photo: Supplied

"The charges concern the killing of protected wildlife, being wedge-tailed eagles, through the use of bait impregnated with poison between October 2016 and April 2018."

The man charged has been forced to surrender his passport to ensure his next court appearance.

In May, DELWP officers discovered at least 136 wedge-tailed eagles dead at a property in Tubbut,  along with the carcasses of four other protected bird series.

Initial reports indicated 81 dead eagles had been found, but the department confirmed on June 12 that 136 dead eagles had been counted throughout one bushland property. The birds were believed to have been intentionally poisoned.

Authorities called it the "biggest case" they had ever seen and feared the toll could be far greater.

Then, in June, four other properties in East Gippsland were raided as authorities continued the investigation.

Native animal skulls were seized when about 45 investigators from police and government agencies raided the properties.

The department said on Wednesday that investigations were continuing.

A wedge-tailed eagle is found shot and dumped in Black Range State Forest, near three other dead birds, in 2017.

Photo: DELWP

"The Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) would like to inform the community that investigations are ongoing, including forensic examination of evidence recently seized in searches of relevant properties," a spokeswoman said.

Jill Redwood from the Environment East Gippsland group said the charges came as a relief after several months of waiting.

"I'm relieved there are going to be charges and consequences," she said.

"It's a great day, I congratulate the department and the investigators."

Wedge-tailed eagles are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975. Deliberately killing them carries a maximum fine of $7928, and/or up to six months imprisonment with an additional penalty of $792 for each bird destroyed.

Information can be provided anonymously by phoning DELWP's Customer Service Centre on 136 186 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Most Viewed in National