Kalgoorlie woman fined for failing to provide care for pet wombat

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Posted

March 15, 2019 10:27:36

A Kalgoorlie woman who kept an orphaned wombat as a pet and fed it breakfast cereal has been fined $6,000 for animal cruelty.

Key points:

  • Noelene Walley believed she was doing the right thing by caring for the wombat
  • Wildlife experts say wild animals should not be taken home and looked after by unexperienced people
  • The magistrate said there were no cruel intentions but there was a failure to provide care for the animal

Noelene Maria Walley’s son found the young animal on the side of a road during a drive from South Australia to back to Kalgoorlie.

The Kalgoorlie Magistrates Court was yesterday told the 52-year-old kept the wombat for eight months last year before it was seized by wildlife officials.

Prosecutor Gregory Stockton from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) said the wombat was malnourished, underweight, and had suffered hair loss and severe overgrowth of its toe nails.

The animal has since made a full recovery at Perth Zoo.

“In an interview with DBCA, [Ms Walley] said she fed it [wheat biscuits] and dry porridge, allowed it to roam in her house, and did not cut its nails,” Mr Stockton said.

“She did not consult a vet for advice because she feared it would be taken away.”

Ms Walley initially pleaded not guilty to being cruel to an animal, but yesterday changed her plea after she received legal advice.

‘Doing the best she could’

Defence lawyer Murray Stubbs said Ms Walley acknowledged she did not have professional skills but had raised joeys in the past and believed she could raise the wombat in the same way.

“She says the wombat would leave the house at night for walks in the bush but would come back,” he said.

“She believed she was doing the best she could [to take care of the animal].”

In sentencing, Magistrate Adam Hills-Wright said Ms Walley was not maliciously cruel but it was a case of failing to provide care.

“Photographs very clearly show the wombat in a poor condition. Blind Freddy could have seen that,” he said.

“Clearly the animal would have suffered pain.”

Mr Hills-Wright issued the $6,000 fine and granted a spent conviction because he was satisfied Ms Walley would not commit a similar offence again.

He said the penalty had to be sufficient to send a message to others who chose to take care of animals.

Can you care for injured or orphaned wildlife?

Registered wildlife carer Anne Kent from Goldfields Native Animal Care said there were many people with good intentions, who cared for injured or orphaned wildlife without the appropriate skills.

“Wildlife should not be taken home and looked after by anyone who hasn’t got the experience,” she said.

“It is cruel for one thing and illegal for another.”

She urged people who found injured animals to immediately contact a registered carer, local parks and wildlife service, or a vet.

Ms Kent said the laws around caring for wildlife were confusing and called for more public education in the area.

“You cannot keep injured animals for any longer than 72 hours,” she said.

“There are a lot of people not doing the right thing and some of it is just through ignorance.”

Topics:

animal-welfare,

human-interest,

courts-and-trials,

kalgoorlie-6430



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