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'Mt. Tam'

May 21

Turtle Tuesday: “If You Care, Leave Them There!”

Posted to MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin on May 21, 2015 at 12:41 PM by Alaina Coffee

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reporting a high number of western pond turtle “rescues” by concerned Californians and is asking us all to kindly leave turtles where they are. 

It is important to keep in mind that a turtle away from water is not necessarily a sign of distress. Many well-meaning people that come across our turtle friends worry when they see them away from water, when actually; these traveling turtles are known to trek away from water to nest.

While acting with good intentions, removing a western pond turtle from its habitat could create a negative impact on the turtle’s ability to successfully reproduce and survive in the future. According to Laura Patterson, CDFW’s Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Coordinator, “They are shy animals and sensitive to human disturbance.”

If you come across a turtle on the watershed that you believe is in distress, please notify MMWD aquatic ecologist Eric Ettlinger at (415) 945-1193. Do not touch or remove the turtle!

Remember, “If You Care, Leave Them There!”

 WPT at Phoenix Lake
 Western Pond Turtles at Phoenix Lake

May 05

Turtle Tuesday: Protecting Native Turtles on Mt. Tam with a New Turtle Study Program

Posted to MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin on May 5, 2015 at 3:05 PM by Emma Detwiler

Last week MMWD aquatic ecologists began a turtle study in the Bullfrog arm of Alpine Lake in an effort to learn more about the native western pond turtle’s (WPT) nesting activity, as well as help to remove non-native species that threaten the WPT’s survival.

Turtle Study Traps
 Turtle traps at Alpine Lake in place and ready.
By trapping and removing non-native turtles such as red-eared and Cuban sliders, the WPT will have less competition for food and nesting areas. This will help ensure the turtles have a home on Mt. Tam for years to come. The non-native turtles that are caught in the turtle study traps will be transported to the Bay Area Turtle and Tortoise Rescue in Castro Valley for rehabilitation and re-homing.

The prevalence of non-native turtle species on Mt. Tam is likely due to well-intentioned pet owners releasing their turtles “into the wild.” While this may seem to be a good option for a turtle you can no longer care for, it is harmful to native species and impacts the ecosystem of the watershed in a profound way.

Sky Oaks Turtles 
 Cuban slider turtles awaiting relocation.
Western pond turtles that are captured in the study’s traps will be transported to MMWD’s Sky Oaks facility where they will be identified by species and sex, measured, and recorded. Native WPTs will be checked for marks or given a unique identifying mark.

Any pregnant female WPTs will be fitted with a GPS transmitter before being released so their nesting activity can be monitored by the ecologists. After processing and attaching transmitters, all western pond turtles will be returned to Alpine Lake.

Check back next Tuesday for another turtle-related post, and please remember to re-home your pet turtles responsibly!