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Firewood theft can be costly

08/07/2014

The Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) is warning that unlawfully cutting trees for firewood on reserved land can be a costly exercise and that remote cameras are being used to catch offenders.


PWS compliance program manager Ashley Rushton said that a North-West man has been fined a total of $850, plus court costs, for unlawfully cutting trees for firewood on reserved land.


The man pleaded guilty in the Devonport Magistrate’s Court on 1 July 2014 to charges of cutting down trees and taking timber from Mount Roland Regional Reserve on several occasions between December 2012 and March this year.


Mr Rushton said the PWS has increased its efforts in compliance activities, with three regional compliance coordinators who offer training and support to field staff in compliance matters and techniques.


 “Until recently, the odds were against PWS staff catching offenders, given the remoteness of many of our reserves and the impracticality of mounting frequent patrols,” Mr Rushton said.


“Now, with cost-effective electronic surveillance equipment readily available, PWS staff can install cameras in suspected hotspots and, in some cases, even receive alerts and pictures on their Smartphone when the device is triggered. The first the offender knows about it is when officers knock on their door carrying a folder full of surveillance images.”


Most offences can incur a fine of up to $2600 per offence. Items used to commit the offence such as chainsaws and, the wood itself, can and usually is, seized by PWS officers. Any wood seized may then be given to local charitable organisations and other items forfeited to the Crown.


Mr Rushton said that the recent court action should serve as a reminder for people to only purchase their firewood from reputable suppliers who provide a receipt for payment, or if cutting their own wood, to ensure they had written permission from the landowner.

Firewood theft can be costly

An image taken by a remote camera placed in a reserve to target illegal firewood gathering.

Firewood theft can be costly

Trees cut illegally in a north-west reserve.