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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

In WA, the rakali is only found in South West waterways. Photo: David Judge

Tuesday 5 July 2016

The real toll of illegal traps

The illegal use of a variety of traps in Western Australian rivers poses an ongoing threat to our native wildlife, especially the native Australian water-rat, the rakali.

Increasing community awareness about the dangers of using these traps is an ongoing campaign for organisations such as Fisheries, the Department of Parks and Wildlife and World Wildlife Fund-Australia.

In 2014/15 a rakali community survey was conducted by WWF-Australia, with Parks and Wildlife, to establish the current and historical distribution of rakali in southwest WA.

The main reported cause of rakali mortality was drowning in illegal traps.

The survey has revitalised a collaborative effort to educate the community, particularly recreational fishers, about the impact of using any form of trap in natural waterways.

Fisheries and Marine Officers from the South West and Southern regions frequently find abandoned traps containing dead turtles, cormorants and rakali; traps likely set for marron, crabs or cobbler.

Air-breathing mammals, reptiles and birds enter the traps, are unable to escape and quickly drown.

For this reason, recreational fishing rules in WA only permit you to fish for marron or crabs using legal gear that allows untargeted wildlife to escape, such as drop nets or scoop nets.

WWF-Australia and Parks and Wildlife are installing signs in key locations to raise awareness about our secretive native rodent, the rakali.

You can provide valuable assistance by reporting traps and rakali sightings. To report illegal traps, contact FISHWATCH on 1800 815 507. If you see a rakali, please email the location and date of your sighting to Parks and Wildlife. 

Last modified: 5/07/2016 3:45 PM

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