Koala Massacre Suspects Charged with Hundreds of Animal Cruelty Charges

The Victorian Conservation Regulator has issued Tuesday more than 250 animal cruelty charges against a landowner and two businesses over a mass killing of koalas at a former timber plantation in the state’s southwest last year.

Twenty-one koalas were found dead at the partially cleared former timber plantation at Cape Bridgewater, near Portland, in February 2021, and 49 severely injured koalas from the clearing were later euthanased, while more than 200 animals were disturbed at the site.

The defendants were accused of clearing the animals’ habitat, which wounded and caused unreasonable pain or suffering to dozens of koalas and destroying koalas — which are a protected species.

“We understand the community’s concerns about this case, and we have ensured a thorough investigation which led to these charges,” Australia’s chief conservation regulator, Kate Gavens, said.

Gavens said the investigation included “gathering a large volume of evidence from the crime scene” and using forensic radiography and pathology to determine when and how the animals died.

The defendants could face a maximum penalty of $109,044 for every charge of animal cruelty for a business and $45,435 or 12 months jail for an individual.

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