By Derek Schlennstedt
A platypus has drowned after it became trapped in an opera house net in the Wandin-Yallock Creek and was found by a local boy near the Seville Recreation Reserve, on Sunday 13 January.
This is the 14th platypus that has drowned in an enclosed yabby trap since the beginning of last year and is a concerning trend.
The platypus was found by 17-year-old Seville local, Connor, who said he didn’t know that platypus inhabited the creek as he had never seen one there before, which makes it all the more saddening.
“It was not a nice thing to find and it makes me concerned about the platypuses wellbeing in public waterways,” Connor said.
Fortunately, Connor is also a wildlife enthusiast and knew that it was illegal to use opera house nets in public waterways.
Under the Wildlife Act1975 there are various penalties associated with taking or being in possession of protected wildlife or using prohibited equipment which is up to a maximum of $38,0562, and/or 24months imprisonment.
DELWP Senior Wildlife Investigator, Mike Sverns said that platypuses are an iconic Australian species that are declining in numbers and that to lose so many was nothing short of tragic.
“It is illegal to use opera house nets in, or near Victorian public waters. These nets trap and prevent air breathing animals like platypus, rakali (water rats), freshwater turtles and aquatic birds from escaping,” Mr Sverns said.
“We are encouraging Victorians not to use enclosed yabby traps such as opera house nets and only use platypus safe alternatives such as the hoop or open top lift nets.”
As an incentive to report the illegal use of opera house nets the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA Australia) are also offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the identification and conviction of anyone involved in the drowning death of a platypus with an enclosed yabby trap.
To report crimes or if anyone knows any information about the platypus which was found deceased in Wandin-Yallock Creek they are urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000