The Queensland Government is launching the Queensland exotic reptile amnesty on Wednesday 25 May, which will run until 10 June 2016. The amnesty offers the chance for Queenslanders to hand in illegal non-native reptiles (turtles, lizards, snakes) penalty free before the implementation of the Biosecurity Act 2014 on 1 July. Under the new laws harsher penalties will apply to those keeping declared pests in Queensland without a permit, including jail time. Biosecurity Queensland responds to incidents involving a range of non-native reptiles that have been found at large in urban areas. Most of the exotic reptiles found are the result of pets escaping or being dumped. This is concerning as a single pregnant snake or turtle could establish a population that could outcompete native species and be impossible to eradicate. Exotic reptiles also carry diseases that, if introduced into Queensland, have the potential to wipe out native reptiles.
The purpose of the Queensland exotic reptile amnesty is to allow people to surrender any illegal non-native reptiles they have without the fear of prosecution. Reptiles that are surrendered will be assessed for health and conservation status, and if they are suitable for rehoming all efforts will be made to place the animals with zoos that have a license to hold the species. Surrender sites have been established in consultation with local councils and can be found across the state during the amnesty period. For more information and to find out where non-native reptiles can be surrendered during the amnesty visit the website or call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.