July 22, 2007
AUSTRALIA'S biggest almond grower will pay out more than $56,000 after admitting responsibility for the massacre of 41 rare regent parrots.
When the company, Select Harvests, was charged over one of the worst killings of threatened birds in Victoria, it blamed two of its workers, sacked them, and vowed to defend the charges. On Tuesday, it pleaded guilty to three charges in the Robinvale Magistrates Court.
Kyndalyn Park Pty Ltd — a wholly owned subsidiary of Select Harvests — was convicted and fined $15,000 on one count of destroying protected wildlife and a total of $1000 without conviction on two counts of breaching their wildlife control permit. The company was also ordered to pay court costs of $40,589.
The executive director for biodiversity and ecosystem services with the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Ian Miles, said the killings were a serious matter.
"This case serves as a warning that shooting protected wildlife will not be tolerated in Victoria," Mr Miles said.
Only about 2400 regent parrots survive in the wild, with half that number in Victoria.
Two Select Harvests workers — Neil McManus, 46, of Swan Hill, and Joseph Borg, 40, of Robinvale — shot the birds near Robinvale, 470 kilometres north-west of Melbourne, last November. They claimed they had been following orders and were each fined $750 without conviction in May.
Select Harvests' managing director, John Bird, in a statement released on Tuesday, said that while the companies regretted the incident and took responsibility for it, they still blamed the employees.