A Tasmanian man used a self-loading rifle to shoot 350 kookaburras over a nine-month period because they were eating his native wildlife, the Supreme Court in Launceston.
Neil Gordon Whitford, 60, pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm for which a licence could not be issued and possession of a silencer and other firearm charges on November 1, 2021.
Crown prosecutor Madeline Wilson said police found a Ruger .22 self-loading rimfire rifle with an attached silencer wrapped in camouflage tape in the kitchen at Whitford's home in Deviot, in Tasmania's Western Tamar Valley region, when they visited.
She said no licence could be issued to the weapon when it had a silencer attached.
Whitford had a category A firearms licence but needed a category C licence.
She said he told police he bought the weapon 40 years ago but bought the silencer over the Internet.
"He thought Big Brother might be watching," he told police.
Defence counsel Fran McCracken said that Whitford lived on a six-hectare property. He owned the firearm for 40 years but disassembled it in 1996 when post-Port Arthur massacre firearms laws were enacted.
"It was not until 2021 that he reassembled it and began to use it for vermin control," Ms McCracken said.
She said that bushfires in the Midlands had led to a vermin issue, swarms of birds arriving at his property.
He shot 350 birds over nine months.
"What were they cockatoos?," Justice Robert Pearce asked.
"Kookaburras," Ms McCracken replied.
She said he noticed a disturbing change in the environment whereby frogs and other insects were disappearing so with the support of neighbours he began vermin control.
Whitford had ordered and paid for another firearm but was told he would need to wait for 12 months.
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"He did not want the kookaburras [dacelo novaeguineae] to nest so he found the firearm and reassembled it," she said.
He had used the silencer because without it the birds flew away after the first shot.
The silencer he bought needed modification leading to a charge of manufacture silencer.
Ms McCracken said the offence was out of character and that he had been a responsible user of firearms for decades.
She submitted that conviction and a fine was the appropriate sentence.
However, Justice Pearce had him assessed for community service orders and postponed sentencing until March 20, at 2.15pm.