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Look out: Turtles are on the Move

July 16, 2010


Susan Barnes
Susan Barnes, conservation biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Northwest Region, prepares to release a native Oregon western painted turtle into the wild at Rynearson Pond near Gladstone after marking the animal in conjunction with a population survey.
-Photo by Rick Swart, ODFW-

SALEM, Ore.—Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists advise Oregonians to be on the lookout for turtles on roads and in parks, yards and campgrounds this summer.

“It’s not uncommon to see female turtles on land at this time of year as they leave the water to lay their eggs,” said Susan Barnes, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Northwest Region Conservation Biologist. “If you see one, the best thing to do is let it continue on its path. Don’t try and return it to the water.”

Barnes, a member of the Native Turtles of Oregon organization, works to conserve Oregon’s turtles all year. “Our native turtles are in decline, so anything we can do to help makes a difference.”

She suggests the public can help by reporting turtle sightings on the Native Turtles of Oregon website.

“This helps us identify the location of our native turtles as well as invasive turtles that we may try and remove,” said Barnes.

Oregon has only two native turtles: the western painted and the western pond. They are both protected by law; it is illegal to take them from the wild and to keep them as pets.

Non-native turtles include red-eared sliders and snapping turtles. It is illegal in the state to buy, sell, possess or release non-native turtles. Red-eared sliders are relatively easy to identify. They have red “ears” (markings) on the side of their heads. If you’ve just realized you are in possession of a non-native turtle, contact your local ODFW office.

Both the western painted and western pond turtle are listed on the state sensitive species list and highlighted in the Oregon Conservation Strategy as species in need of help. Population declines are due to habitat loss, degradation of nesting areas by invasive plants, illegal collecting, disease and competition from non-native turtles.

For more information

To see photos of Oregon’s native and non-native turtles and print an identification flyer, visit the ODFW website.

For more information on The Oregon Conservation Strategy, visit the ODFW website.

See a video of Oregon’s native turtles.




Susan Barnes, (971) 673-6010
Meg Kenagy, (503) 947-6021

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