The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is urging the public not to use opera house nets in Victorian public waters these Summer holidays.

This year 13 platypus have died after drowning in illegally set opera house nets in Victoria.

DELWP Senior Wildlife Investigator, Mike Sverns said: “Platypus are an iconic Australian species that are declining. To lose 13 platypus in one year is 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.”

“This summer holidays 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.”

The latest platypus death was in an opera house net that had been left unattended in the Tarra River, Tarra Valley, South Gippsland.

As an incentive to report the illegal use of opera house nets the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA Australia) are 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.

Under the Wildlife Act 1975 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 24 months imprisonment.

To report crimes against wildlife call Crime Stoppers confidentially on 1800 333 000 or online at  https://www.crimestoppersvic.com.au/report-a-crime/