The Conservation Regulator is appealing to the public for information after a platypus drowned in an illegal commercial fishing net.   

The male platypus was entangled in the net in the Thomson River at the Bruntons Bridge campground last week.  

In Victoria it is illegal to use prohibited fishing equipment, such as commercial and opera house nets, in public waterways and penalties can apply.  

Illegal nets and traps left un-attended trap and prevent air-breathing animals, like platypus and rakali (native water rat), from escaping. Platypus and rakali are vulnerable to these traps due to their underwater foraging behaviour.  

The platypus was listed as a vulnerable species by the Victorian Government last month. Additional funding for conservation work and an Action Plan and Management Statement have been announced to protect the iconic Australian animal.  

The maximum penalty for illegally hunting, taking or destroying threatened wildlife is $39,652 or 24-months imprisonment, or both.   

Platypus and Rakali drowning deaths have significantly declined since 2019 when Opera House nets were made illegal to sell or possess.   

Anyone with information about this incident or other wildlife crimes can make a confidential report to Crime Stoppers Victoria on 1800 333 000.   

Quotes attributable to Conservation Regulator Senior Forest and Wildlife Officer, Brad Woods:    

“The platypus is a special native species, recently listed as ‘vulnerable’ - with the population continuing to decline we need to do what we can to protect them.”   

“These incidents are devastating when most of us realise how privileged we are to share our waterways with this protected species.”  

Quotes attributable to Conservation Regulator Senior Investigator, Mike Sverns:   

“Trapping and killing threatened native wildlife such as a platypus is a serious offence attracting significant fines and can result in imprisonment.”   

“You can help us to protect wildlife by reporting suspected wildlife crimes to Crime Stoppers Victoria.”   

Michelle Kearns | Regional Media and Communications Advisor, Gippsland

Forest, Fire and Regions | Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning