Global Navigation

Endangered Turtles Released Back Into the Wild

IMAGE: Biologist Tammy Schmidt from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) measures turtle #1720 to see if it is big enough to release back to the wild. At the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle biologists weigh, size and mark around 140 western pond turtles for future release in recovery sites. The turtles were collected from the wild 10 months ago as eggs and hatchlings and brought to the Woodland Park Zoo to grow. The endangered turtle has many threats to survive including the invasive bullfrog, disease, and suitable habitat. (© Karen Ducey Photo)
August 13, 2014
Share

Last fall eggs and hatchlings from the Western Pond Turtle Project were collected and transported to Woodland Park Zoo to help them survive without the threat of predators and disease.

Ten months later, and bigger than a bullfrogs mouth, the endangered turtles are free. Together with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 134 turtles were released to recovery sites in the Columbia River Gorge, and Pierce and Mason counties last week.

For high school interns Olivia Peterson, age 18, from Edmonds, Wash. (left) recently graduated from Meadowdale H.S. and Theresa Keith, age 17, a recent graduate from Holy Names Academy, it was one of the coolest things ever.  As volunteers through the Zoo Corps program they were in charge of cleaning the turtle’s tubs, feeding and counting them every day this summer. “It will be exciting to see how they react to a more stimulating environment,” said Keith as she measured, weighed and marked them for their great trek into the wild. Keith will be starting college at the University of San Francisco this fall and plans to double major in biology and Spanish.  Peterson will be heading to Western Washington University.

According to the Woodland Park Zoo:

“In 1990, only about 150 western pond turtles remained in two populations in the state of Washington. A respiratory disease threatened the remaining turtles and evidence could not be found that any hatchlings were surviving. Collaborative recovery efforts over the last 20 years between Woodland Park Zoo, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other partners have resulted in saving Washington’s last two wild populations of the species, establishing four new populations and head starting nearly 2,000 turtles. Recent surveys indicate that at least 800 of those released turtles have survived and continue to thrive. At some sites, evidence has been found to indicate that wild hatchlings also are surviving.”

Each turtle has a passive integrative transponder tag injected into its skin so biologists can track them using radio transmitters.

More information on the Western Pond Turtle Project can be found in the zoo’s press release.

A Western Pond Turtle is released into natural habitat in Lakewood, Washington by staff from the Woodland Park Zoo. Over 100 of them were released as part of a conservation effort to restore their species.

A Western Pond Turtle is released into natural habitat in Lakewood, Washington by staff from the Woodland Park Zoo. Over 100 of them were released as part of a conservation effort to restore their species.

IMAGE: Michelle Tirhi from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) holds a western pond turtle. (© Karen Ducey Photo)

Michelle Tirhi from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) holds a western pond turtle. (© Karen Ducey Photo)

IMAGE: Zoo Corps intern, Theresa Keith, age 17, from Seattle, takes measurements off a Western Pond turtle that be released into the wild. (© Karen Ducey Photo)

Zoo Corps intern, Theresa Keith, age 17, from Seattle, takes measurements off a Western Pond turtle that be released into the wild. (© Karen Ducey Photo)

IMAGE: Biologists and Zoo staff from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Woodland Park Zoo weigh, size,and mark around 140 western pond turtles for future release in recovery sites. (© Karen Ducey Photo)

Biologists and Zoo staff from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Woodland Park Zoo weigh, size,and mark around 140 western pond turtles for future release in recovery sites. (© Karen Ducey Photo)

IMAGE: Olivia Peterson from Edmonds, Wash. (left) who just graduated from Meadowdale H.S. and Theresa Keith, a recent graduate from Holy Names Academy watch Western Pond Turtles through a telescope in Lakewood, Wash. Both are interns with Zoo Corps and helped take care of the trutles at the Woodland Park Zoo. Together with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) over 100 of the endangered turtles were released back into their native habitat. (© Karen Ducey Photo)

Olivia Peterson from Edmonds, Wash. (left) who just graduated from Meadowdale H.S. and Theresa Keith, a recent graduate from Holy Names Academy watch Western Pond Turtles through a telescope in Lakewood, Wash. Both are interns with Zoo Corps and helped take care of the trutles at the Woodland Park Zoo. Together with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) over 100 of the endangered turtles were released back into their native habitat. (© Karen Ducey Photo)

IMAGE: A Western Pond Turtle is released into natural habitat in Lakewood, Washington by staff from the Woodland Park Zoo. Over 100 of them were released as part of a conservation effort to restore their species. (© Karen Ducey Photo)

A Western Pond Turtle is released into natural habitat in Lakewood, Washington by staff from the Woodland Park Zoo. Over 100 of them were released as part of a conservation effort to restore their species.

 

 

 

Share

, , ,

Comments are closed.