“I’ve got nothing to hide”: Man accused of koala massacre speaks out
The man accused of Victoria’s “koala massacre” has said he is not guilty of animal cruelty and will return to face the state’s “fascist” wildlife authorities.
Investigators from Victoria’s Conservation Regulator were still carrying out their assessment on Thursday at a cleared gum tree plantation near Cape Bridgewater after scores of koalas were found injured or dead.
More than 80 koalas have been assessed since Friday, and 30 were euthanised.
The Victorian environment minister Lily D’Ambrosio said on Monday the event was “devastating” for the koala population in the Portland region and the government would do “everything possible” to hold the perpetrators accountable.
“Every Victorian can rightly feel not only appalled, deeply saddened and heartbroken, but angry. I am absolutely angry,” D’Ambrosio said.
“This can never be repeated.”
The private property is run by Keith Troeth, who is working in NSW.
“I’m not concerned because I’ve done nothing wrong,” Troeth told The Age on Thursday.
“I’ll come back, I’ve got nothing to hide.
“The fascists have yet to complete their investigations so until that happens, I won’t be making any more comment.”
Earlier this week, Troeth said a small number of animals might have died while the land was cleared with bulldozers in late January.
“We made every effort to do it professionally, we made every effort to minimise any fatality,” he said.
“There may have been one or two koalas killed and I’ll wear the responsibility, but it’s not the big hoo-ha it’s been made out to be.”
D’Ambrosio said the government would consider breaches of the Wildlife Act and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Killing, harassing or disturbing wildlife could attract a penalty of up to $8,000 and an additional fine of more than $800 per head of wildlife under the Wildlife Act.
A spokeswoman from the Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning said the Conversation Regulator’s Major Investigations Unit remains on site to collect evidence and take witness statements.
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