An alligator snapping turtle was found in the Prineville Reservoir, safely removed and humanely euthanized on Friday. Oregon wildlife official say the turtle is the first alligator snapping turtle ever found in the wild in eastern Oregon. How it got there is still a mystery, but wildlife officials say it was likely released into the lake by someone who owned it as a pet and was unable to care for it any longer or not longer wanted it.
“People get these turtles when they are small and release them when they get too big and aggressive to keep as pets,” said Simon Wray, An Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife conservation biologist. “It’s a poor choice for a pet and the environment.”
Alligator snapping turtles can weigh over 300 pounds and are very aggressive. They feed on fish, insects, birds and other small animals. When they are introduced to a new environment, they can quickly destroy the ecosystem. Oregon already has a problem with common snapping turtles and wildlife officials do not want alligator snapping turtles to establish themselves in the area and cause more damage.
Although alligator snapping turtles are native to the southeastern United States, there are often sighting of them in the western U.S. as well. They are considered an invasive species in Oregon. The wildlife officials believe that the turtle would not have been able to survive in the reservoir throughout the winter and made the decision to euthanize it. It was first spotted by a fisherman who alerted the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. ODFW officials were able to catch the turtle easily.
Image from Wikimedia Commons.