Successful turtle trapping program gives native turtles at the zoo “moat” a boost

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April 23rd, 2009

After a three-day management effort to remove non-native turtles from the pond at the entrance of the Phoenix Zoo, native turtles can spread their legs and enjoy less competition for food and habitat.

Every year, it is estimated that hundreds of unwanted pet turtles are released into the Papago Park pond by their owners.

This year, 94 non-native turtles were removed from the pond, with the majority being red-eared sliders. Turtles will be placed with the Phoenix Herpetological Society and made available for adoption to suitable homes with a pond in a fenced yard.

Removing non-native turtles helps prevent them from traveling to nearby waters where they could out-compete, spread disease to or prey on native turtles and other native aquatic wildlife.

The trapping program was a joint effort of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix Zoo, Phoenix Herpetological Society, City of Phoenix and more than 160 volunteers.

The first non-native species turtle trapping was held at the zoo in 1999. Since then, more than 600 turtles have been captured and removed. The largest turtle ever trapped was a 31.5 pound common snapping turtle.

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration representative was also on site to provide information on pet turtles and the risk of salmonella infection, especially in young children.

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