WILDLIFE authorities are investigating an apparent case of animal cruelty in Albury, with three platypuses found dead in the botanic gardens.
Two were found decapitated, with a sharp object appearing to have been used.
Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service Murray River secretary Hazel Cook said they had been found over the past five weeks in different areas of the gardens, with the most recent found last Wednesday.
“There definitely was no fox involved,” she said.
“That’s the first thing we thought everyone would think, but we took it to a local vet and had them check it out.
“You could see were it was cut, where the spine was cut.
“You can actually see where they’ve tried to cut into the vertebrae.
“It’s very obvious it’s not a fox.”
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Ms Cook said whoever killed the native animals had wanted them to be found.
“It’s just sad,” she said.
“I think they need some help.
“We have no idea why anyone would do that, especially to something as gentle as a platypus.
“Even the fact someone caught three of them is concerning.”
Ms Cook said there was no way to tell if they were alive when their heads were cut off.
A NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service spokeswoman said the incidents were being treated as acts of animal cruelty, and said they were “despicable”.
“NPWS is aware that three platypus were found dead in Albury Botanic Gardens in the last five weeks,” she said.
“These animals appear to have been deliberately killed in a despicable act of cruelty to one of Australia’s most loved animals.
“NPWS is working with AlburyCity council and WIRES to look into these incidents.
“It is an offence under the National Parks and Wildlife Act to harm native animals and penalties include a fine of up to $11,000 and or six months imprisonment.”
WIRES volunteers have asked fishermen, canoeists and members of the public to keep a lookout for suspicious activity.
Albury RSPCA president Arthur Frauenfelder said the attacks would impact the already limited numbers of platypuses in the Murray at Albury.
“They’re very rare,” he said.
“This could have wiped out whole sections of the river.
“They could have came from the same family.
“They’re usually in small or solitary numbers – it’s not like there’s 20 in the river.”
Anyone with information should call (02) 6947 7025.