Victorians who illegally kill animals could soon face fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The state government has announced plans to change the exisiting rules to prevent animals from being unnecessarily killed.
Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio was forced to act after dozens of koalas were killed when they were bulldozed at a blue-gum plantation in western Victoria last year.
There was also the shocking shooting and poisoning of hundreds of wedge-tailed eagles in Gippsland that encouraged Ms D'Ambrosio to ensure this never happens again.
Victoria's Wildlife Act hasn't been updated since 1975 and a panel of four experts has been appointed to see how they can bring the legislation into the 21st century.
At the moment, the maximum financial penalty someone can be hit with for illegally killing animals is $8,261 and an additional $826 for each animal killed.
The new panel will be looking at other states and territories in Australia to see whether they should match or even surpass their fines.
People in Western Australia can be fined up to $200,000 for illegally killing a specially protected species, while corporations in New South Wales can cop a $110,00 fine for the illegal killing of wildlife.
Ms D'Ambrosio said they will also take into account whether the penalties should be more severe if the animals are important to Aboriginal traditional owners.
The Environment Minister said: "We want penalties to be tough and act as a strong deterrent. These are distressing cases of attacks on wildlife. The current laws are outdated and haven't kept up with community expectations."
Dozens koalas were discovered dead at a logging plantation in Victoria earlier this year and authorities suspect the deaths could have happened months earlier.
A statement from Friends of the Earth Australia said 'the land in question was owned by Australian Bluegum Plantations, whose lease expired in 2016'.
"The plantation was apparently taken over and logged by South West Fibre, a joint operation between Midway and the Japanese company Mitsui. Apparently, after logging, the land was handed back to a private landholder.
"A logging harvest was completed in late December 2019, where reports came in about the plight of hundreds of starving koalas, whose habitat had been logged by the plantation company.
"A couple of days ago people apparently witnessed the bulldozing of many dead koalas into slash piles."
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