Quick think­ing brings end to tur­tle chase

ELU­SIVE PEST CAUGHT AT LAST

Joondalup Weekender - - News - Tyler Brown

A VIG­I­LANT com­mu­nity and the keen eye of a lo­cal res­i­dent have re­sulted in the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Food nab­bing a pest tur­tle in a sub­ur­ban pond.

Depart­ment biose­cu­rity of­fi­cer Glen Coupar praised the ef­forts of the com­mu­nity of a Maranga­roo Bud­dhist cul­tural cen­tre – Pho Quang Tem­ple – for cap­tur­ing the red-eared slider tur­tle.

Mr Coupar said the species of tur­tle was listed in the top 100 of the world’s worst in­va­sive ex­otic species.

“It is im­por­tant this pest does not es­tab­lish in the Western Aus­tralian en­vi­ron­ment as many of our na­tive tur­tles, small fish and frogs are po­ten­tially at risk,” he said.

“They are known to prey on birds, par­tic­u­larly hatch­lings, and other na­tive species.

“Red-eared slid­ers can com­pete ag­gres­sively with na­tive tur­tles for food and favoured bask­ing sites.

“They can also af­fect the breed­ing suc­cess of na­tive tur­tles by com­pet­ing for nest­ing sites and eat­ing hatch­lings.”

Mr Coupar said the tem­ple com­mu­nity played a vi­tal role in cap­tur­ing the pest.

“The tur­tle was re­ported to us ear­lier in the year but evaded our tra­di­tional traps,” he said. “It took a com­mu­nity ef­fort to help drain the pond, re­move plants and re­lo­cate the long necked tur­tles and fish.”

A lo­cal res­i­dent re­ported see­ing the tur­tle in the dried out pond last week, which al­lowed it to be cap­tured.

“This is a great ex­am­ple of the col­lab­o­ra­tive work by com­mu­nity groups, the pub­lic and the depart­ment to min­imise biose­cu­rity threats to our state,” Mr Coupar said.

“Any cap­tive tur­tles should be re­ported to the depart­ment’s Pest and Dis­ease In­for­ma­tion Ser­vice and not re­leased into the wild where they can dam­age our na­tive wildlife. Once th­ese tur­tles breed and be­come es­tab­lished in a wa­ter body, they are ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to re­move.”

The red-eared slider is a fresh­wa­ter tur­tle with a dis­tinc­tive red stripe be­hind each eye. The tur­tles can grow to about 30cm long and un­like na­tive tur­tles, slid­ers can re­tract their head into their shell.

Glen Coupar, Minh Le, Ven­er­a­ble Thich Phuoc Nhon and Tuan Huang with the cap­tured red-eared slider tur­tle, which is an in­va­saive pest.

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