John Morony officers primed for red bellies and browns this summer

Services and programs officer Nathan Dodwell gets hands on with a slithery customer.
Services and programs officer Nathan Dodwell gets hands on with a slithery customer.

After several venomous snakes were seen at our local jail last summer, Corrective Services staff took matters into their own hands ahead of this summer’s expected onslaught.

A dozen staff at John Morony Correctional Complex’s minimum security unit undertook a venomous snake training course so they could apprehend any found on the grounds this year.

The governor of the minimum security section, Ivan Calder, said coming across the snakes last year was alarming.

“We had an influx of snakes last summer, including a four-foot eastern brown snake inside the complex perimeter and another in one of our program buildings – it scared the hell out of us,” Mr Calder said.

“This training gives staff the skills needed to respond to snake sightings, and safely trap and release them, without injury to themselves or the reptile.”

But where do they release them, you may well ask. A Corrective Services spokeswoman said it’s a site within 5km of the jail in bushland “well away from the public”.

The two-day course was run by former Australian Reptile Park venom department head John Mostyn and focused on techniques used to catch, handle and release venomous snakes safely.

Participants honed their skills using hooks and bags to capture black snakes, tiger snakes, death adders and eastern brown snakes brought along by Mr Mostyn and his wife Tina.

“The group learned about the safe identification of snakes, their venoms, and the different ways the venoms can affect the body,” Mr Mostyn said.

The staff attained a Certificate of Competency, which allows them to then apply for a licence to catch and release reptiles. 

The jail’s Wildlife Care Centre rehabilitates a number of injured animals, including venomous snakes. Over the past year, around 40 snakes, 15 lizards, five turtles and a number of other animals have been cared for there. 

Custodial officer Ken Willenbrock bravely grabs the non-business end of a snake.

Custodial officer Ken Willenbrock bravely grabs the non-business end of a snake.

Back in the bag with you!

Back in the bag with you!