On 8 February 2018, Brent Philip Counsell was convicted of 10 charges of possessing an endangered species and 4 charges of importing endangered fauna and flora. Counsell was fined a total of $5,500, and placed on a good behaviour bond for 24 months.
Counsell was the registered owner of ‘Wülfe’, an online business selling a range of natural history type items including taxidermy and animal skulls.
On 17 June 2016, investigators seized 100 specimens including skulls and taxidermy from Counsell’s residence that they suspected of being of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) concern.
Scientists at the Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics at the Australian Museum examined the seized specimens and confirmed that a number of the specimens belong to a non-native species. Some of the seized specimens included a brown bear skull and teeth, a hippopotamus tooth, a flying fox skull, an owl skull and claw and an Asian wild cat’s skulls.
Two specimens could not be conclusively determined to be non-native, but Counsell admitted to having imported these from Indonesia.
Philip Counsell pleaded guilty to ten counts of possession of illegally imported CITES species and four counts of importation of a CITES specimen, contrary to section 303GN and section 303CD of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth).
Counsell was convicted on all charges and ordered to pay a total aggregate fine of $5,500. He was also placed on a good behaviour bond for a duration of 24 months, and the Court ordered that he would be required to pay a sum of $2000, if he breached his bond.