Compliance and enforcement
DEPI manages wildlife management issues across Victoria, including licensing for game hunting and issuing legal permits to keep or trade wildlife. DEPI also manages illegal use of public land and forest products, providing statewide compliance services.
What is compliance?
By "compliance" we mean the delivery of DEPI's regulatory responsibilities. This involves enforcing legislation by responding to public complaints, conducting investigations, issuing fines and prosecuting cases through the courts. This is to help deter and reduce illegal activities.
DEPI receives more than 300 calls each year from members of the public with information about environmental crimes.
Victoria’s wildlife is protected and it’s an offence under the Wildlife Act 1975 to keep or trade in native species without the appropriate permit or licence.
Illegal and uncontrolled ownership of wildlife from overseas can place native wildlife and our environment at risk by potentially introducing unwanted high risk invasive species and diseases.
Severe penalties exist under State and Federal laws for wildlife offences. These reflect the detrimental impact of illegal activities on our environment and endangered species.
Current penalties are:
- Any person illegally possessing, breeding, trading or displaying native wildlife without a licence is liable for fines up to $28,000 ($28,668) and/or 2 years' imprisonment.
- Any person who imports, keeps or trades in prohibited wildlife from overseas is liable for fines of up to $110,000 and/or 10 years' jail under Commonwealth Legislation and up to $57,000 ($57,336) for offences under Victorian law.
(Commonwealth Legislation refers to offences under Section 303EK Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.)
In the past year, the DEPI laid 601 charges involving wildlife, forestry, marine and hunting offences in Victoria.
DEPI has had some really good success stories with major investigations and prosecutions of environmental offences over recent years.
Compliance cases also regularly go through the magistrate’s court system. Infringement notices and fines are also issued for minor offences.
Our compliance services team works in close cooperation with other Government agencies including Victoria Police, Customs, Parks Victoria and the Department of Primary Industries to investigate and prevent environmental crimes involving forestry, native wildlife and high risk invasive animals.
DEPI also delivers targeted extension programs and education campaigns to improve community awareness and voluntary compliance.
Informative presentations, targeted communications campaigns, regular media coverage and intelligence gathering are integral to the success of DEPI’s investigations and operations.
All this work is an important part of DEPI’s compliance cycle.
DEPI utilises concealed camera technology on public land for the purpose of gathering evidence and information of people committing alleged offences under legislation administered by DEPI. These offences include habitat destruction, theft of forest produce, illegal hunting activities, wildlife poaching, rubbish dumping and arson detection.
Concealed camera operations are run according to strict DEPI procedures and cameras are only installed by DEPI authorised officers at locations on public land where alleged offences have been detected. All DEPI concealed cameras are installed within the requirements of the Surveillance Devices Act 1999. Images of a private nature not relevant to the alleged offences detected are destroyed.
What do DEPI’s Compliance Support Group do?
- Coordinates supervises and investigates high priority environmental crime.
- Provides guidance and investigations support to regional based DEPI Compliance Officers
- Oversees training and development of DEPI wildlife and forest officers
- Provides intelligence services and liaises with other environmental agencies and police - particularly on illegal wildlife trade and forestry offences.