Today the Oregon Zoo will be releasing seven Western pond turtles into the wild after nurturing them for 11 months in artificial summer-like conditions. In honor of that event, I thought I’d share this Oregon Field Guide episode from 2007 about the ongoing efforts to recover the Western pond turtle (it happens to include a shot of a baby turtle hatching out of an egg, which is just cool).
Twenty years ago, there were fewer than 100 of these turtles left in the Columbia River Gorge, and they’re still an endangered species in Washington state.
The idea behind the nurture and release program is to protect the baby turtles from bull frogs and large mouth bass until they grow big enough to avoid predators that would ruin their chances of survival. Scientists estimate 95 percent of the turtles released back into the Gorge have survived.
The turtles being released today were gathered last year from wild nesting sites, where turtle experts trap and tag adult females with transmitters so they can protect the nests while the turtle eggs incubate naturally.