THE City of Greater Bendigo should consider employing a licensed snake catcher, a private operator believes.
But Bendigo is one of the many local governments that take no responsibility for removing a snake from a private property.
“If a snake is on private property, it is the responsibility of the land owner,” Debbie Wood, the city’s presentation and assets director, said.
“If a snake is seen on city property, (for example, a playground), city staff will assess what is required to relocate the snake.
“If a snake is in a natural reserve like Kennington Reservoir, then this is a natural occurrence in places such as this and the snake should be left alone.
“If people are visiting a natural reserve they will encounter local wildlife, as this is their habitat, and at this time of year that will likely include snakes.”
Chris Page, of TZR Reptiles and Wildlife, is one of three licensed snake catchers based in Bendigo.
He believes there is sufficient demand for snake catching services in the municipality to warrant a council-funded service.
“I get asked all the time why do I have to charge and why doesn’t the council provide this service,” Mr Page said.
As a private operator, he needs to balance the cost to his clients against the costs of doing business. That includes being insured.
If the service was covered by the council, Mr Page said people might be more likely to call for a snake catcher and less likely to try to take matters into their own hands.
He said council’s support could would also help local operators provide services, which can include returning to a property if a snake has been sighted, but not captured.
In Victoria, harassing or harming snakes and other wildlife is illegal.
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning authorises wildlife controller licences, including snake control. But it does not employ snake controllers, or incentivise any wildlife controller positions.
“It is up to private individuals to decide if they would like to pursue this line of work,” a DELWP spokesperson said.
“DELWP wildlife officers provide advice to the public on how to comply with Victorian law relating to wildlife and how to deal with issues with wildlife, or manage wildlife, appropriately, humanely and legally.
“DELWP also provides regular advice to the public on what to do if they encounter a snake.”
Contacting an authorised wildlife controller for help is among the advice DELWP provides. It is also the recommendation of local councils who don’t provide their own service, including Bendigo.
“The city has not considered employing a full time snake catcher. It is a service that would only be needed at certain times of the year and in an ad hoc capacity,” Ms Wood said.
“There are accredited providers that the community can call, and council uses these services as required.”
Mr Page received about six or seven requests for help in a day this week.
A young Eastern Brown snake that was brought inside by a cat was among the call-outs.
George Moore, another of the city’s snake catchers, also said he was being called upon at least once a day.
“I’ve been called out to a lot of blue tongue lizards people thought were brown snakes,” he said.
But he’s also had his fair share of brown snakes, red-bellied black snakes, and even a couple of tiger snakes.
Both snake catchers said most of their work came from residential areas. And, as the city grows, snakes are increasingly finding themselves in urban environments.
KEEP an eye out for smaller snakes, a Bendigo licensed snake catcher has advised.
TZR Reptiles and Wildlife’s Chris Page said baby snakes were about this time of year, and would be around during the next couple of months.
He said it was critical, in all snake encounters, that people remained calm.
Mr Page advised people to take a few steps back and stay a safe distance away from the snake – at least five metres was optimal.
He said they should also keep family members and pets away from the area.
While maintaining a safe distance, Mr Page said people should keep an eye on the snake and call a licensed snake catcher.
Licensed snake catchers in Bendigo include:
For more contacts, call the DELWP customer service centre on 136 186.
In Victoria, snakes are protected under the Wildlife Act.
DELWP has a tool to advise on help for injured wildlife, available here.
If someone has been bitten by a snake, call 000 immediately.
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