WARNING — GRAPHIC CONTENT: A man has been jailed for committing "unacceptable and serious" acts of cruelty against three animals, all of which were caught on camera.
The 33-year-old man, based in the seaside town of Wonthaggi in Victoria's Gippsland region, attracted the attention of investigators who were examining a separate case involving native wildlife crimes in 2020.
Two videos show the man tormenting a fox cub and causing horrific injuries to a deer fawn by forcefully pulling it around by its ears, kicking it and stabbing it with a hunting knife in the abdomen, according to a Conservation Regulator Victoria statement from Wednesday.
While three other videos show him assisting another man using a guinea pig as live bait to train hunting dogs. The Conservation Regulator has not released the videos but has distributed stills from the footage and Yahoo News has obtained a description of the offences.
Yahoo News Australia understands stills taken from one video show the man attacking the sambar deer fawn — a protected species — in the dark, but with car headlights shone on them. Sambar are the largest wild deer species in Australia, and can be seen in eastern Victoria and southern NSW. Despite being protected, a game licence can be required to hunt them.
While stills from another video reportedly show him attempting to restrain and remove a fox cub from a ute, as the cub flinches in terror. He ends up removing the animal by grabbing it by the scruff of the neck, however he initially tried to lift it by the skin around the base of the tail.
In stills from videos three to five, it is understood he is watching as three hunting dogs chase and attack a guinea pig in a residential yard, while another man shouts "get them" in the background. Yahoo has been told the guinea pig can be heard squealing as the dogs bite, pick it up and violently shake it.
Conservation regulator says sentencing should 'serve as warning'
The 33-year-old pleaded guilty to animal cruelty offences, admitting to inflicting and encouraging pain, suffering, and terror on the animals. He was sentenced to four months' jail for three charges at Latrobe Valley Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.
The co-offender was convicted and fined $4000 for multiple animal cruelty offences in September 2021 at Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court, having avoided jail time due to personal circumstances.
“The Conservation Regulator uncovered these acts of cruelty against a deer, fox and guinea pig while conducting a wildlife investigation," senior investigator for the Conservation Regulator Victoria, Glenn Lineham, said in a statement.
"Yesterday’s result reflects the serious and unacceptable nature of animal cruelty in all its forms.”
The sentencing also served as "as a warning to anyone that animal cruelty comes with consequences", chief conservation regulator Kate Gavens said.
“We rely on information from the community to help us investigate wildlife crimes, and encourage the public to contact Crime Stoppers Victoria on 1800 333 000 and report any illegal or suspicious behaviour.” The regulator accepts anonymous callers.
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