Criminal Law News & Current Affairs
Man was charged over whistle, speakers near kangaroo cull site
An activist who allegedly blew a whistle near the site of the kangaroo cull has been charged with hindering the leader of the annual shooting operation.
Police have alleged that protester Christiaan Klootwijk, 70, repeatedly blew his whistle to frighten off animals and disrupt the cull at Wanniassa Hills Nature Reserve in Canberra’s south last week.
Klootwijk appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday, represented by lawyer Peter Woodhouse, and entered a not guilty plea.
The case has been set down for hearing early next year.
The ACT Government’s controversial cull ended this week, despite having another three weeks to continue the shooting under its licence.
Shooters killed 1689 adult eastern grey kangaroos and 701 joeys on territory nature reserves since late April, bringing the total number killed to almost 11,000 since 2009. The cull is designed to manage kangaroo populations and protect and conserve local habitats.
This year, Parks and Conservation had licence to kill 782 animals at the reserve in Wanniassa Hills, but just 202 were shot.
Protesters have routinely attempted to disrupt the annual cull since it began, and say they were present at every reserve site, every night since the government’s licence began.
Klootwijk was arrested and charged last week with hindering or obstructing the leader of the cull operation in his function as a public official .
The operation leader told police the loud noises had made it difficult for shooters, which could hamper their efforts to humanely kill the animals.
Police say they went to the Wanniassa Hills cull site on Wednesday night last week, and were told there was a male yelling and blowing a whistle on the boundary of the reserve.
The officers say they heard a shot fired, and then a loud whistle. Police asked the shooters to fire again, and again heard the whistle.
They allege they found Klootwijk in dark clothing and questioned him.
Klootwijk, police claim, said he was blowing the whistle to let the shooters know he was there.
Klootwijk had allegedly been previously warned about being near the cull site in late June, when police say he was using loudspeakers to play a bugle-type noise.
He was taken to Tuggeranong police station and interviewed, telling police he cared for the kangaroos as if they were his pets.
He told police he only used the whistle to protect himself from being shot and never went into the reserve.
Police bailed him on the conditions he not possess a whistle or any “noise-making implement” near any ACT nature reserve.
Those conditions were deleted on Thursday.
The matter is set down for hearing in the ACT Magistrates Court in February.
Credit: Christopher Knaus, Canberra Tims