Woodland Park Zoo and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have again teamed up to release about 90 juvenile endangered western pond turtles into the wild.
On Wednesday, zookeepers will prepare the turtles for release by weighing and sizing them, and marking them for identification They will be released at a refuge site in Lakewood on Aug. 3.
Photo by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo.
Only about 150 of the turtles remained in the wild in our state in 1990. The population is now about 1,500.
The turtles were collected from the wild as eggs, hatched and “head started” at Woodland Park Zoo to improve their chance of survival in the wild. Once the turtles reach a suitable size of about 2 ounces – large enough to escape the large mouths of bullfrogs and large-mouth bass – they are returned to their homes and closely monitored by biologists.
The largest of the 10-month-old turtles will be equipped with tiny radio transmitters glued to their shells so biologists can learn more about post-release dispersal, habitat use during active and hibernation periods and, ultimately, their survival rate.