An international team of scientists has admitted breaching a Queensland law by illegally hunting deer in a national park and a conservation group has warned it could lead to criminal charges.
The Australian Conservation Foundation said in a statement it would investigate the case, which has been published in the Queensland government’s Official Information Bulletin.
“This is a case of serious criminality and the people who have committed it should be charged with committing a criminal offence,” the statement said.
“It is time to bring charges and punish those who broke the law.”
The act is clearly unlawful and it has the potential to cause irreparable harm.
“A group of Queensland scientists and wildlife conservationists who were charged with illegal hunting in the Cairns National Park in 2012, have been charged.
The Australian Conservation Society said it had received a “vague” warning from Queensland authorities about the hunters and had asked the authorities to provide “comprehensive information” on the case.
The group, which included scientists from the University of New South Wales, University of Adelaide, the University at Buffalo, and the University and Environment Research Institute of Queensland, pleaded guilty in November 2012 to breaching a national wildlife park law.
In that case, three of the six hunters had previously been convicted of illegally hunting a deer.
They were all ordered to pay a fine and serve two-and-a-half years’ jail.
The five remaining hunters, who were also ordered to attend court, were not ordered to complete any jail terms.
In the case of the two remaining hunters who pleaded guilty, the charges were quashed.
The Queensland government said at the time that the charges had been brought under the Criminal Code and that it would be investigating the case and that the three hunters who were sentenced would be charged under the Wildlife Act.
It said the hunting would continue “until proven otherwise”.
In its statement, the conservation group said the charges against the three men were not “an isolated incident”.”
It highlights the need for more transparency and enforcement in the enforcement of wildlife laws and regulations,” the group said.
A spokesman for the Australian Conservation Association said the hunters had been released on bail pending the outcome of the case against them.”
As a result, they have been free to hunt, which they will continue to do,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman said the group was not planning to file any legal action.