Dozens of snakes, lizards, frogs and a spider have been rescued from a car in western Queensland and two men have been charged in a statewide police crackdown on the trade of protected animals.
The reptiles, valued at $160,000, were allegedly taken from remote areas in Queensland and the Northern Territory and were found during a police search of the vehicle at Mt Isa last Thursday.
A black-headed python, a blue-tongue lizard, rare frogs, lizards, snakes, geckos and skinks were seized and two men – aged 19 and 27 – were charged with nine counts of keeping or using a taken protected animal.
Two rare frogs died due to the poor, confined conditions.
So far the crackdown at properties around Mt Isa, Caboolture and the Gold Coast has netted 32 snakes, 31 lizards, two frogs and a spider.
“Some of the seized reptiles, including a knob tail gecko were able to be returned to the wild almost immediately into areas of suitable habitat,” Queensland’s Environment Minister Steven Miles said on Monday.
“We hope that many of these reptiles are also ultimately released to the wild, but this may not be possible in some cases if there is a risk of the animals spreading diseases into wild reptile populations, or where the original source of the animals in unknown.”
Some animals were being sent to a sanctuary in west Brisbane, he said.
Anyone caught taking or keeping protected native animals in Queensland faces fines of up to $378,450 or two years in jail.
The two charged men are due to appear in Mount Isa Magistrates Court on August 7.