The Victorian government has launched a probe into allegations Chinese high rollers are hunting wombats in the state.
Under questioning from Greens MP Sam Hibbins on Thursday, Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio told parliament that she was alarmed by the recent reports and was waiting on a report from her department, The Age reports.
“I have instructed my department to undertake a full investigation into the allegations and reports of what appears to be some very, very disturbing practices,” she told question time.
The allegations surfaced in an investigative news report by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes into operations at Crown Resorts. The report alleged money laundering through the company’s casinos, but also showed images of high rollers being taken to a property in the countryside to hunt wildlife.
Currently wombats can be killed in parts of Victoria for specific purposes without the need for a permit and the review will examine those rules, the distribution and numbers of wombats and the threats they may be facing.
To kill, take, control or harm wildlife without authorisation, however, is a crime and penalties range from fines of $8261 to $39,652 and/or six to 24 months’ imprisonment, the newspaper said.