15 Aug 2012

Gecko smugglers could face three years' jail

9:21 am on 15 August 2012

Tougher penalties could be imposed on people who poach geckos if the Government succeeds in boosting the lizards' international protection level.

In May, Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson expressed disgust that a German man caught smuggling four geckos from Christchurch was sentenced to only four months jail.

Smugglers could face three years jail.

Smugglers could face three years jail. Photo: DOC

Seven of the eight people prosecuted for attempting to smuggle more than 90 geckos, skinks and tuatara in the past 15 years were jailed for at least three-and-a-half months.

The Department of Conservation says the penalties are not tough enough and it is asking the body responsible for classifying wildlife to increase the species protection level.

That will coincide with a bill by Ms Wilkinson which would triple the maximum fine for smuggling to $300,000 and three years jail.

The bill is expected to go before Parliament within weeks.