Mass deaths in Victoria bring animal cruelty charges

Mass deaths in Victoria bring animal cruelty charges
# 22 December 2021 18:51 (UTC +04:00)

Regulators in Australia have issued hundreds of animal cruelty charges over the deaths of dozens of koalas in the state of Victoria, APA reports citing BBC.

The animals were found dead at a partially cleared timber plantation at Cape Bridgewater last year.

More were later euthanised because of dehydration and injuries sustained during the incident.

A landowner and an earthmoving business are accused of harming and killing the animals by clearing the area.

They face 126 charges each. A second firm, a contractor, faces one charge of animal cruelty for disturbing the koala population.

They have yet to enter pleas. Victoria state's Conservation Regulator did not name the accused.

Each charge can carry a large fine or a maximum 12-month jail sentence, BBC Sydney correspondent Shaimaa Khalil reports.

Blue gum trees - an important koala habitat - were harvested from the plantation, leaving only a few isolated pockets.

Some koalas had starved to death in the remaining trees. Others were apparently killed by bulldozers.

According to Australian broadcaster ABC, 21 koalas were found dead at the site and 49 more were euthanised.

The Victorian Conservation Regulator estimates that 200 koalas were affected by the incident.

Koalas are a protected species in Victoria.

Local resident Helen Oakley came across the dead animals and posted a video of herself sobbing and relaying the news, prompting the investigation.

She told ABC that she was "ecstatic" that charges had finally been brought after so long.