The platypus is a protected species under the National Parks and Wildlife Act. (Supplied: Sharon Wormleaton, file photo)
Authorities are investigating the killing and public dumping of three platypuses, two of which were beheaded, near the Murray River on the border of New South Wales and Victoria.
The animals’ carcasses were found in Albury’s botanical gardens over the past five weeks.
Albury mayor Kevin Mack said wildlife experts and a vet had confirmed they had been trapped and killed by a sharp object.
“All three platypus were found in the gardens and we suspect that they were dumped there by the person responsible for their deaths,” he said.
The platypus, while not considered endangered, is a protected species under the National Parks and Wildlife Act.
It faces a range of threats, including foxes and riverbank erosion, and platypus researches are concerned about their numbers.
“Their deaths are all the more concerning due to the brutal way in which they appear to have been killed,” Cr Mack said.
Perpetrator ‘wanted to be noticed’
The secretary of the Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service Murray River, Hazel Cook, said whoever was responsible wanted the carcasses to be found.
She said she was at a loss to explain why they would attack such a gentle native animal as a platypus.
“If they’d caught them accidentally, surely they would just throw them in back in the Murray River, whether they were dead or alive,” she said.
“To do something like that shows that they wanted to be noticed and probably if we didn’t do something about it would they just keep on going.”
Ms Cook said the incident could have wiped out an entire family.
National Parks NSW and the Albury City Council have appealed to the public for information.
“We are urging anyone with information on these senseless attacks on our native animals to please report it to the National Parks and Wildlife Service Office in Tumut,” Cr Mack said.
Harming animals in NSW can be punished with fines of up to $11,000 and six months in prison.