Wombat’s serious injuries after being left in trap for days: ‘Extreme hardship’

There are calls for an investigation after a wombat was caught and then left to ‘suffer’ for days without food or water on a property in NSW.

Pictures show the animal’s leg being crushed in the jaws of a trap before being rescued. Others, recorded during the healing process, highlight “serious crush injuries,” including dead tissue and infection, which were treated by a vet.

Yahoo News Australia may reveal information requested from police by NSW Environment Minister Penny Sharpe in relation to the matter.

Two images of the wombat with its leg pinched.

The wombat was found trapped on a property in NSW in 2021. Source: Delivered

The wombat’s injuries occurred in August 2021 and were so severe that it took him nearly two months to recover. The concern was renewed by Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst, who questioned why state authorities did not fine or prosecute those responsible for capturing the common wombat – a protected species.

“If no significant action has been taken, the reason for this needs to be fully investigated,” she said. “This wombat would have suffered tremendously. To have been abandoned for days, scared, trapped and left with long term wounds is simply unacceptable.”

Why questions about the captive wombat are being asked now

The incident took place in Mulloon in the Southern Tablelands. It comes ahead of the state’s Labor government election and the appointment of Ms Sharpe to the Environment Department, which Ms Hurst wrote to on Friday, imploring her to investigate the matter.

“I am writing to express my concern at the apparent failure of the NSW authorities to take appropriate action in response to atrocities committed against a wombat,” she wrote.

Three images of the wombat's leg show it gradually healing.

Photos show the wombat during its healing process, which took nearly two months. Source: Delivered

In her letter, Ms Hurst claims that the investigation by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and NSW Police appeared to be over, although witnesses to the incident were never called for testimony. She later said she was confident there would be a “full inquiry” because there was a new minister in the Environment portfolio.

A spokesman for Ms Sharpe told Yahoo on Thursday it would respond to Ms Hurst once she had more details on the matter. “Minister Sharpe has asked the Police Secretary for the details of their investigation and the reason they have decided not to prosecute,” they said.

Why authorities say they haven’t examined the captive wombat

While trapping the species is illegal in NSW, experts believe images of the wombat caught show it was caught near a fence line on what appeared to be a wombat trail with digging nearby.

NPWS told Yahoo that NSW Police were leading the investigation into the captive wombat and was told after an investigation that it had “decided not to impose fines or pursue a prosecution”.

NSW Police said after Monaro Police District received a report they conducted “extensive inquiries” but noted “no further police action would be taken”.

The vet Dr. Lucy Fish began treating the wombat, affectionately known as the Trapper, in early September 2021. “It took several weeks of bandages and repeated surgical wound management under anesthesia before he healed enough to be released,” she told Yahoo.

Is it still legal to trap animals in NSW?

Unlike Queensland, where steel jaw traps are still allowed, NSW only allows those with padding.

While capturing native species other than dingoes is illegal, the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) recommends that equipment be inspected frequently when used to control other animals.

“Traps must be inspected at least daily to prevent suffering and possible death from exposure, thirst, starvation, predation and/or shock,” recommends the Rabbit Traps Code of Practice.

When used as a form of animal control, Dr. Fish Fallen as “archaic and incredibly cruel”.

“They’re indiscriminate, so they have a high probability of catching native wildlife, and I think they should be completely illegal,” she said. “A trapped wild animal will inevitably suffer extreme stress, pain from the trap itself, and other injuries caused by attempting to escape.”

dr Fish asks why traps are still allowed when DPI has acknowledged they can cause injury. “These range from foot swelling and lacerations to dislocations and broken bones,” she warns in her Wild Dog Handbook.

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