Eel trap in West­ern Springs Lake­side Park ap­pals staff

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

Il­le­gal eel­ers could find them­selves on a slip­pery slope to a crim­i­nal record if they are caught trap­ping the crea­tures in Auck­land parks.

Auck­land Coun­cil has is­sued a warn­ing against all fish­ing and eel­ing in pub­lic parks af­ter an eel trap was found in a lake at West­ern Springs Lake­side Park.

Park staff are reel­ing af­ter the dis­cov­ery.

Un­der coun­cil by­laws and the Re­serves Act it is il­le­gal to kill or in­jure any an­i­mal in a pub­lic place or take or will­fully de­stroy any an­i­mal.

Park man­ager Mark Bowa­ter says eel­ing and trap­ping eels in parks will not be tol­er­ated.

‘‘We must pro­tect our na­tive flora and fauna, es­pe­cially th­ese eel species which have cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance.’’

Eels once flour­ished in West­ern Springs, also known as Te Wai Orea (Wa­ters of the Eel), be­fore Euro­pean set­tlers ar­rived.

It is home to both na­tive eels species the short­fin and longfin.

Longfin eels are clas­si­fied by the De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion as ‘‘at risk and de­clin­ing’’.

Fish­ing of any form is not per­mit­ted in the park other than the use of small hand­held nets by chil­dren for ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses.

‘‘Our eels ma­ture into adults in fresh­wa­ter lakes and streams, and mi­grate to the sea to breed,’’ Mr Bowa­ter says.

Most eels take 20 to 30 years to ma­ture but some fe­males are more than 80 years old be­fore they travel through avail­able wa­ter­ways and across damp ground to sea.

Cen­tral Auck­land lo­cal and sports parks man­ager Jane Aickin says park staff have not had re­ports of any sim­i­lar in­ci­dents in re­cent years.

‘‘We hope that this eel trap­ping in­ci­dent at West­ern Springs is an iso­lated one.’’

West­ern Springs faces an on­go­ing bat­tle with park poach­ers hunt­ing ducks and other wildlife.

Last year the

Auck­land City Har­bour News re­ported dead an­i­mals in­clud­ing gut­ted ducks, mu­ti­lated rab­bits and a scalped swan had been found near the lake­side by Auck­land Coun­cil work­ers on Oc­to­ber 1.

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