Eel trap in Western Springs Lakeside Park appals staff
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.