NSW Police say they are assisting in the investigation of a slaughtered wallaby found decapitated at Byron Bay last month.
Animal rights activists were outraged at the brazen killing on one of most popular walking trails in the region, and angry that local police investigators deferred to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) which only has one investigator working between Newcastle and the Queensland border.
A NSW Police media spokesperson told Echonetdaily yesterday that they took offences against animals seriously and that several agencies shared responsibility for such investigations.
‘I have been advised that the lead agency in regard to this matter is the NPWS,’ the spokesperson said.
‘The NSW Police Force is assisting as required with that investigation.’
While only commenting on the specific case, the spokesperson could not clarify the police force’s policy regarding the investigation of animal cruelty and killings.
Australians for Animals offered a $500 reward last month for information leading to the arrest of anyone responsible for the brutal decapitation of the wallaby found on the Byron Bay lighthouse walk between Wategos and The Pass.
Early morning walkers expressed disgust at the gruesome remains found just a metre from the popular path.
Australians for Animals coordinator Sue Arnold expressed frustration at the time that police weren’t taking a lead role and that she believed the NPWS did not have enough resources to conduct a thorough investigation.
The NPWS’s Lawrence Orel said resources were tight but successful prosecutions in cases like these depended on tip offs from the public.
‘The bottom line is we have a dead animal but we need more information to pursue the investigation further,’ he said.
‘It’s the same for police,’ he added. ‘The community has a really important role to help provide protection for our wildlife and they should be reporting such incidents to us.
‘We welcome any information no matter how small or insignificant people feel it might be. It can be given in confidence but we need that information to be able to act. In the absence of it all we’ve got is a carcass.’
Mr Orel said police commonly worked with the service investigating such incidents, but it depended on the circumstances as to which agency took the lead role.
He said three agencies covered the protection of animals: the police who enforce the law; the NPWS which oversee illegal killing of wildlife; and the RSPCA which was concerned with cruelty to animals.
‘It’s slightly different but important – all Australian wildlife is protected so it’s an offence to kill any wildlife, even humanely.
‘This case might be the sort of thing the RSPCA is interested in but normally what you’ll find is once one authority has the lead on an investigation the other agencies will follow and support them.
Meanwhile Ms Arnold has reiterated the reward offer.
‘We’ve had no response so far but we will still put up the $500 reward – but only if the police get involved.’ she said.
Anyone with information can call Byron Bay police on 6685 9499, the NPWS on 6620 9300, or Australians for Animals on 6680 3674. All information can be supplied anonymously.