No charges after eel slaughter

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 13:33 18/12/2012
eels slaughtered landscape
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TAME ANIMALS: Willowbank Wildlife Reserve staff were sickened to see this photo published on Facebook.

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No charges will be laid after two eels were killed near the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve.

The reserve called police in October after it was alerted to a picture on Facebook apparently showing two youths on the reserve grounds holding two dead longfin eels, believed to be about 70 years old.

Under the photo it was written that the youths did not kill the eels to eat them but because they were "bored and looking for something to do".

Police said no charges would be laid against the youths.

Senior Sergeant Peter Stills said the case had been a complex one and had been subject to a thorough legal review.

"No offence has been committed, therefore it is not possible for police to lay charges".

He said police "deplored" the actions of the eel captors and had spoken to the youths.

The pair had told police they caught the eels away from the reserve.

"They told us they went into the Willowbank car park to get the photo, where there was light," he said. 

Willowbank manager Dale Hedgcock said staff were disappointed no charges would be laid.

"We are obviously a bit disappointed that these guys will have no consequences for what they've done, but there's not a lot we can do,'' he said.

"We really had to rely on the police and I believe they did all they could do. It's just unfortunate that the eels had to suffer, the Willowbank staff had to suffer and the wider community has suffered too."

There had been one positive outcome from the situation, Hedgcock said.

"We have been pleased by the support from the public who have said this sort of behaviour is not OK. People have realised these eels are not in abundance. They are a threatened species which need to be looked after."

The reserve was looking at installing security cameras.

"We will keep on this to make sure nothing similar happens again," he said. 

The reserve was also working on a joint initiative with the Styx Living Laboratory Trust to develop an eel sanctuary.

"As well as that we also want people to think of Willowbank as a sanctuary itself. These eels are hand-reared and tame. They are in a sanctuary already as far as we're concerned and should be treated that way," Hedgcock said.

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- The Press

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