The Wildlife (Powers) Amendment Bill has received a third reading in Parliament and will come into force 28 days after receiving the Royal assent.
The bill amends the Wildlife Act 1953 and modernises and strengthens Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers' existing powers to protect native wildlife from poaching and smuggling.
The new law gives full-time DOC rangers four new powers:
- The ability to take action to prevent an offence about to occur or in progress.
- The power to temporarily stop persons suspected of an offence to allow investigation.
- The power to seize a broader range of evidence such as laptops, cameras and mobile phones.
- The power to require a date of birth and proof of identification details from suspected offenders.
Full-time Fish and Game ranges are also given extended powers and will be able to require people to give their date of birth as well as their name and address. Failure to provide the details could result in a fine of up to $100,000 and/or one year's imprisonment.
The new law also gives a power to arrest to specifically authorised DOC ranges, where there is serious offending against protected wildlife involving illegal hunting, killing or export.