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Article written by Shona Whaite. This article does not necessarily reflect the views of QFWS.
Which Act bans ferrets in Queensland?
The "Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002"
Also the "Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Regulation 2003"
Where can I get a copy of the above Act & Regulation to read?
From Qld Government Legislation web site. Click on "Acts, SL as in force", then the letter "L"
Where in the Act & Regulation does it say ferrets are banned?
In the Regulations, go to "Part 2, Division 1, Item 4: Declared Pests".
"(a) the following animals are declared pests for the State of the category class 1 pestó
(i) all mammals, reptiles and amphibians, other than a mammal, reptile or amphibian mentioned in schedule 1;"
Ferrets are NOT included in the list in Schedule 1, hence they are a declared pest.
So what exactly is it illegal to do?
It is illegal to introduce, feed, keep, release or supply a Declared Pest.
The definition of keep in this Act is "keep, in relation to a declared pest, includes have in possession, or under control, in any place."
See the Act, "Part 5, Division 2: Offences about declared pests"
Can the government enter my house without permission to seize a ferret?
Yes. An "authorised person" may enter anywhere they like without a warrant or permission from the owner, to seize a Pest Animal, provided they have reason to believe you have a ferret.
What is an "authorised person"?
Basically any government officer who has been appointed an "authorised person" under this Act. An individual can be appointed an "authorised person" by the chief executive, a pest operational board or chief executive officer of a local government.
See "Chapter 7, Part 2: Authorised Persons" in the Act.
How do I know if someone is an "authorised person" or not?
They MUST carry an identification card with their photo, signature, an expiry date, details on who appointed them an authorised person, and it MUST identify the person as an authorised person under this Act (not any other state legislation)
In exercising a power under the Act in relation to another person, an authorised person must produce or display their ID card. This does not include entering your home or land, because that is in relation to entering property rather than in relation to a person.
See Parts 246 and 247 of the Act.
What should I do if someone knocks on my door?
1. If they have a warrant, you must let them enter.
2. If they don't have a warrant, DO NOT give them consent to enter. Simply shut the door. They are still able to enter without consent (provided they have reason to suspect you have a ferret), but you don't want to make it easy for them.
3. If I were in your position, I would immediately take the ferret, get in the car and drive to the airport or into NSW. Call QFWS anytime for assistance with relocation.
Won't I get in trouble for taking the ferret away when they have come looking for it?
Potentially yes. However, the alternative (letting them take the ferret) is worse.
It is an offence to "obstruct" an authorised person (or anyone helping them). The Act defines "obstruct" as "includes hinder, resist and attempt to obstruct", and "includes assault and threaten to obstruct".
The penalty for keeping a ferret in Queensland is 800 penalty units ($60,000). The penalty for obstructing an authorised person is 50 penalty units ($3,750).
Immediately leaving with the ferret gives you the best chance of:
1) saving the ferrets life
2) avoiding the fine for "keeping" (if you can get the ferret out before the authorised person sees them)
Potentially you risk facing two fines ("keeping" and "obstructing") however as mentioned above, as far as I know, no fine in relation to ferrets has ever been given out.
What information do I have to provide an authorised person if requested?
* You DO have to provide your real name and address.
* You DON'T have to provide any other information (provided you feel that information may incriminate you)
* DON'T give false of misleading information as that is an offence. Don't lie, just tell them that you will not be answering any questions as it may incriminate you.
What are the chances someone will knock on my door?
As far as I know, it has never happened. All seized and euthanised ferrets have been either found stray pets, or been with their owner in public (so authories have an obligaiton to do something - they are not on a "witch hunt" to track down owners).
As far as I know, no-one in Queensland has ever received a fine in relation to a ferret.