Kangaroo Island’s parks and reserves have been the recent target of vandalism and marron poaching.
There’s been an increase in the number of offences occurring on a regular basis in the Rocky River Precinct in Flinders Chase National Park, the Southwest River in Kelly Hill Conservation Park and Western River tributaries in Western River Wilderness Protection Area (WPA).
The latest incident occurred in Western River WPA. Part of this area is closed to manage the risk to public safety during the last stages of the feral goat control program, which involves the use of high powered firearms by feral animal control officers.
Rangers on a routine patrol located a Kangaroo Island man poaching marron in the Western River WPA. Although closure signs are in place, an entry gate had been forced open.
The offender was issued with expiation notices for a number of offences totalling in excess of $700. A number of pots were seized as evidence and the marron were photographed and destroyed.
The newly upgraded facilities of the Platypus Waterholes in Flinders Chase National Park were also recently targeted. Park staff have removed marron pots and bags of rotting fish heads left at the waterholes, while the walking trail and signs have been damaged by a vehicle driving through native vegetation to gain access to the main bridge.
The Rocky River is one of the few places where platypus are found in South Australia.
Platypus will drown if trapped in enclosed marron pots. These pots also catch other native species and the fragile riparian (riverside) habitat is damaged when placing them. It is an offence to fish for and take any animal (including introduced species) from any river system within a park on KI.
Other incidents at Flinders Chase over summer include a break-in and batteries stolen from a water monitoring shed and significant damage was done to the open grasslands near Mays Cottage by vehicles.
"Not only do these activities cause damage to park facilities and infrastructure, they also threaten native plants and wildlife and could cause human injury or even death," Natural Resources land manager land Rob Ellis said.
South Australia Police and PIRSA Fisheries are working with Natural Resources staff to investigate reports that people are accessing parks to catch marron and sell them on the island.
Senior Fisheries Officer Marg Rowley said "heavy penalties apply in relation to purchasing, selling or having possession or control of aquatic resources taken illegally. Fines can be up to $20,000 or two years imprisonment."
Rangers have increased patrols, supported by the use of electronic surveillance devices.
"It is really disappointing that some residents and visitors don't value our public reserves," Ranger-in-Charge Caroline Paterson said.
"Apart from supporting ecological systems and biodiversity, the parks employ many local residents, provide commercial business opportunities and are a major tourism drawcard. They provide recreation, education and health benefits for all users," she said.
If you have any information about suspicious behaviour or incidents, please contact the Natural Resources Centre located at 37 Dauncey Street Kingscote, or phone (08) 8553 4444, or firstname.lastname@example.org.