Snapping turtle’s quest ends abruptly

No home found for the invasive species

A mossy-looking snapping turtle found walking along White Oak Drive east of Corvallis on June 30 has been humanely destroyed after no suitable home could be found for her.

The case is sad, said Susan Barnes, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, but it also is emblematic of the dilemma facing wildlife managers regarding all invasive species.

“I’d sort of hoped (your reporter) wouldn’t personalize this particular turtle too much,” Barnes, who is based in Clackamas, said Thursday. Although it’s understandable that the public might be sympathetic to a reptile that had survived for at least 20 years in the wild, it’s important to look at the big picture when it comes to invasive species and their impact on the native ecosystem, she said.

Snapping turtles are native to the southeastern part of the United States, and they are hardy. Even found in oxygen-deprived locations such as cattle sewage ponds, they are voracious, grow huge and are mean-tempered. Their powerful bite can take off a finger.

In Oregon, snapping turtles’ prey foods might include baby ducks and, more worrisome, the young of the smaller, less aggressive and plummeting population of the native Western pond turtle. This reptile, which used to be common in ponds found in farmland, already is under attack from yet another invasive species, the American bullfrog. To these wide-mouthed and aggressive frogs, the Western pond turtle hatchlings are “like Oreo cookies” — crunchy on the outside, with a soft and tasty center.

Bullfrogs also are a menace to other frogs, including the increasingly rare native red-legged frog.

Still, nobody is blaming the invaders, and Barnes said that ODFW officials tried to find a location for the old, mossy snapping turtle, which weighed more than 20 pounds and was almost two feet long. They’d hoped it might be useful in an educational exhibit about the impact of invasive species.

And just how did this lone female snapping turtle become an invader? It likely had been a pet at one time, captured from the wild back in its native range and brought to Oregon. It may have been released when it outgrew its enclosure or when someone moved or grew tired of it and released it. Barnes said that is both illegal and a bad idea, but people still do it.

Because snapping turtles are so aggressive and have such slow metabolic rates, the turtle no doubt lived for a long time alone, perhaps in a Willamette slough or a pond. She may have been in search of a mate when she went on her last journey and was found along the road.

Her life ended on July 14, when she was anesthetized and then destroyed, mostly probably by decapitation. Again due to their slow metabolic rate, turtles are difficult to humanely destroy using an overdose of anesthetic, which is the most usual method of euthanizing ailing or unwanted pets.

The contents of the turtle’s stomach will be studied to determine what it had been eating, but that analysis had not been completed as of Thursday.

Anyone who finds a turtle wandering far from its domain is asked to take the turtle (avoiding its head) to the nearest office of the ODFW.


So my question is how hard would it have been to ship this turtle to say Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, or some other southern state or state these turtles are native?

Not to terribly hard I’d bet, say as hard as contacting another states Game and Wildlife Division. How about we just cut the fucking heads off of the Officers from ODFW for being stupid, ignorant, and failing to do their job!

Oregon and the ODFW sucks! Shame on you, your state, and your Wildlife Division. You goose steeping jack boot wearing NAZIS!



~ by Digory Kirke on July 27, 2008.

One Response to “Snapping turtle’s quest ends abruptly”

  1. Unlike Fox News I am fair and balanced. When my boyfriend read this article he emailed the ODFW. They responded quite quickly to the email.

    This is their reply:

    Dear Mr. (took out my Bf’s last name):

    Thank you for your comments. Unfortunately, most attempts to return non-native animals to their native habitats (called repatriation) are unsuccessful because the receiving authorities will not accept the animals. The primary reasons for this are the risk of disease transmission and concerns for the genetic integrity of native populations. In this case, if we were to ship the turtle back to Georgia or another state where they occur naturally, those populations could be compromised, and other jurisdictions are not willing to take that risk.

    Occasionally, we can (and do attempt to) find a zoo or wildlife rehabilitation center willing to take the animals, but these opportunities are limited. I agree that euthanasia is an unfortunate solution for these situations on an individual basis, but it is often the best way to protect the integrity of animal populations as a whole. Introduced species, primarily turtles and bullfrogs, are the most significant factor in the decline of our native turtles, which are now at a fraction of their historic abundance. The physiology of turtles makes anesthesia and decapitation the most humane way of euthanizing them.

    The more unfortunate part is that the turtle was illegally brought to Oregon to begin with. We conduct a lot of outreach to educate the public on the laws, regulations, and effects of non-native species; some additional information regarding turtles can be found on our website:

    The wildlife integrity rules for
    Oregon are at:


    Tom Friesen
    Invasive Species Coordinator
    Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

    So it appears I owe the ODFW an apology. While neither myself or boyfriend are happy about the event we now better understand the reasoning behind it.

    Therefore I retract calling the ODFW fuckers and or Nazis. I have also learned as I should have by now know: to check further into something that is reported to find out ALL the facts. Something the article failed to do.

    This was a very valuable reminder and lesson for me. I am sorry once again to the ODFW, and am sorry they are forced to do something like this. It appears they do a fine job and best they can do. However sometimes their hands are tied just like many other peoples are.


    Blog Administrator

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