Why DID the turtle cross the road? To get to his native habitat!
We talked with Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School students this week about the new turtle habitat we will be creating at Willow Creek in Beaverton.
Green Team program coordinator Meghan Ballard talked to students about our native turtle species, the western painted turtle and the western pond turtle, and all of the reasons why their habitat is disappearing. Many of the reasons our native turtles are losing their habitats have to do with nonnative turtles in the area that people often keep as pets and eventually just release into the wild. These species are the snapping turtle and the red eared slider and they are competing with our natives for food sources and taking over their nesting and basking structures.
Other threats to our native turtle species include:
- Loss of wetlands due to invasive plant species, (i.e. reed canary grass) development and agriculture
- Poaching; either taking turtles out of the wild to keep as pets or killing them for food
- Fishing; by biting on bait, turtles often swallow hooks and they can be very difficult to remove
- Loss of nesting sites due to development and nonnative turtles
- Predation of young by bullfrogs
- Disturbance by boaters; turtles need the warmth of the sun to digest their food and if they are constantly disturbed and cannot access their basking structure, they must find somewhere else to bask
- For more information, visit http://www.oregonturtles.com/index.html
With the insight of partners like Susan Barnes from Oregon Deptartment of Fish and Wildlife, it is our hope to create several patches of ground, free of tall grasses in which native turtles will be able to nest and lay their eggs. Students at Rachel Carson seem very excited to get started on this new project!
Besides learning all about our turtle habitat plans, Rachel Carson students have gotten a great number of native trees planted at Willow Creek and removed a huge amount of blackberry in just a few weeks. Way to go!