Page 773 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 28 March 2023

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(e) snakes are stigmatised in the community, which means many people are fearful of them and they are prone to being injured or attacked by people when contact occurs;

(f) education is an important part of ensuring the community can safely live alongside snakes, something that we will increasingly need to do as our urban environment encroaches on their natural habitats;

(g) in the ACT, there are four licensed snake catchers, ACT Snake Removals, Canberra Snake Catcher and Reptile Removals, Canberra Reptile Zoo, and Canberra Snake Rescue and Relocation;

(h) these licensed operators respond to calls from the community to safely remove snakes from people’s homes and businesses and release them back into the wild if they are not injured;

(i) under current regulations if a snake is injured, licensed snake catchers are only allowed to keep them for veterinary care and treatment for 48 hours. When a snake requires further care, this means that the snakes have to then be moved to a veterinary clinic or euthanised. This puts extra unnecessary pressure on veterinary clinics, when a licensed and trained snake catcher could continue care through to release; and

(j) the licensed snake catchers also run programs in the community to educate about snake behaviour and reduce fear of snakes. Currently in the ACT, the Canberra Reptile Zoo and the National Zoo and Aquarium are the only places where venomous snakes can be kept which presents a range of challenges for snake handling and education; and

(2) calls on the ACT Government to:

(a) explore the possibility of extending the 48 hour window that licensed snake catchers can care for an injured snake that has been caught for as long as they need veterinary supervision;

(b) explore the potential for allowing licensed snake catchers to register ownership of venomous snakes for education purposes, in line with other jurisdictions;

(c) support snake education programs run in the ACT, including education programs for new migrants and refugees that experience heightened fear from snakes; and

(d) report back to this Assembly by 30 November 2023.

I am excited to bring this motion forward today, as I think it is essential that snakes are protected and that there is more education in our community about how we can live alongside our reptile friends.

Many members and staff today have had the chance to meet some snakes in the Assembly. Gavin Smith, from ACT Snake Removals, came in, with four very venomous snakes, and introduced us to them. I would like to thank Gavin for this introduction and education session. I would also like to thank the OLA for their patience in working with us to bring these snakes into the Assembly, and thank my staff for their work to get that happening today. It was a bit of a journey to get here. I would like to acknowledge something that Ms Orr said in this process, when I told her that I was working on bringing snakes into the Assembly. She instantly froze and

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