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Student to pay $15k for importing reptiles

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 13/10/2016

An Auckland student who imported a menagerie of banned reptiles - including a snake - has been ordered to pay $15,000.

Harrison Edward Sollis has admitted to a charge of attempting to possess unauthorised goods after authorities found he had arranged to have five chameleons, one iguana and one American corn snake mailed from Sweden to a home in Hillsborough.

His plea at the North Shore District Court this week came at the end of a two-year investigation by the Ministry for Primary Industries, who intercepted the package of exotic wildlife in October 2014.

The ecology student and reptile breeder asked to be let off without a conviction, because it would interfere with his studies.

But the presiding judge said the offending was too serious and ordered him to pay $15,000 to cover the cost of the investigation.

MPI investigations manager Simon Anderson said snakes were totally prohibited in the country and a serious risk to New Zealand's ecology.

"Firstly, there is the risk of the species becoming established and devastating our native species. Secondly, there is the risk of parasites and pathogens that various species may bring with them," he said.

"Both could be catastrophic for the environment."

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