Legislation to help stop wombats being buried alive has been introduced to the South Australian parliament after incidents of burrows being bulldozed.
Greens MP Tammy Franks said while wombats were a protected species in SA, their burrows were often filled in during farming or construction work, dooming the wombats inside to a slow and horrific death.
She said in one incident captured on video in 2021, police and environment department officials said they could not take action because there was no explicit evidence of animals being injured.
"Burying a wombat in a burrow is a slow death sentence for the animal. They slowly suffocate and starve, a process which can take as long as three weeks," Ms Franks said.
"Across South Australia wombats are still being buried alive as a form of eradication day in and day out with little action or recourse, in stark contradiction to the intent of our current laws aimed at protecting them."
Under the Greens' bill it will be an offence to destroy, damage or disturb a wombat burrow with maximum penalties of a $5000 fine or imprisonment for 12 months.
Wombat Awareness Organisation spokeswoman Brigitte Stevens said protecting wombat burrows by law was long overdue.
"The lives of thousands of animals would be spared from the horrors of being buried alive," she said.