Alligator snapping turtles have been overhunted to the extent they are threatened with extinction in their native Southeastern United States.
They’re huge, and with their spiky shells and beaky faces, they’ve been known as the dinosaurs of the turtle world.
But those weren’t good enough reasons to keep one alive after it was discovered in an Eastern Oregon reservoir.
Around these parts, it’s an invader, as in an invasive species that could upset the ecological balance. That’s why the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife euthanized the one found in Prineville Reservoir.
“I’d hate to see these turtles get established in Oregon,” the department’s invasive species coordinator, Rick Boatman, said in a press release. “We already have problems in the Willamette Valley with common snapping turtles.”
The prehistoric-looking specimen that met its untimely demise in Oregon was about the size of a small dog – but had the potential to reach about 250 pounds. That’s the nature of North America’s largest freshwater turtle.
ODFW Conservation Biologist Simon Wray said it was probably released into the reservoir by someone who kept it as a pet.
“People get these turtles when they are small and release them when they get too big and aggressive to keep as pets,” he said. “It’s a poor choice for a pet and the environment.”
An angler fishing on Prineville Reservoir reported the turtle Thursday to ODFW and biologists captured it the following day.
— David Steves
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