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Man fined for keeping exotic insects

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/02/2017

Authorities with a bee in their bonnets over a young insect expert's flouting of biosecurity laws have fined him for illegally keeping exotic moths.

Entomologist Zachary Paul Warren, 28, will pay $11,250 after being found guilty of two charges under the Biosecurity Act in the Palmerston North District Court on Wednesday.

He illegally obtained exotic Malaysian moth eggs, hatched them and redistributed eggs to three people around New Zealand, the Ministry for Primary Industries says.

A total of 37 unauthorised live caterpillars and 41 dead moths were found at Warren's home, the MPI's Steve Ham said.

Warren said he sensed keeping the insects was wrong but his excitement at receiving them and the opportunity to raise them "drowned out" any thoughts of reporting the eggs to the MPI.

Judge Lance Rowe said during sentencing that Warren's disregard for biosecurity could place a lot of New Zealand industries in jeopardy.

"Due to the tropical nature of the species of moth, they would not have become established here in New Zealand however there is always the risk that associated organisms and pathogens that can live on the moths could be introduced," she said.

"A more detrimental effect on New Zealand's ecosystem could occur if a different species were introduced from a more temperate climate."

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