Claims a smuggled scorpion had been found in the grounds of a
Queenstown primary school led to an extensive search of its
The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) was concerned there
could be a risk to pupils, so searched with ultra-violet
light as scorpions glowed when they were exposed to UV, the
ministry said in its summary of facts presented in the
Christchurch District Court yesterday.
Iszac William Walters (23), of Sydney, appeared before Judge
Roy Wade admitting charges under the Biosecurity Act of
possessing and disposing of black rock scorpions.
He will be sentenced on December 11.
Three Queenstown men have also been charged in relation to
the incident and are due to appear in the Queenstown District
Court on Monday.
The maximum penalty for each of the charges faced by the men
is five years in prison or a fine of $100,000.
The MPI summary of facts said Walters smuggled six scorpions
through Christchurch International Airport from Australia on
February 17 this year.
When the MPI received information a man had possession of a
live scorpion which was kept in his bedroom, he was
questioned. He said he found it in a takeaway box at
Queenstown Primary School and decided to keep it.
An extensive search of the school grounds found no scorpions.
Inquiries led to Walters and statements that he had smuggled
the scorpions inside a 35mm film cannister.
Scorpions are restricted organisms as defined by the
Biosecurity Act 1993 and were unauthorised goods if they were
outside of a containment facility without the authority of an
Illegally introduced organisms could have major consequences
for native species if they occupied the same ecological niche
and out-competed or preyed on native species, the MPI said.
The black rock scorpion is a dark-coloured species that can
grow up to 55mm in length and is often found living under
rocks and logs in Australia.
The MPI reported scorpion specialist Dr Erich Volshenk, of
Australia, said the scorpion, which lived in cooler areas of
Australia, such as Victoria and South Australia, could
survive in the northern part of New Zealand, and any areas
with a similar temperate range.
Its sting was unlikely to be fatal to humans but could cause
inflammation and pain for several hours.
They were also prohibited from being removed from Australia.