Western Pond Turtle

"From the Ponds"

Vol. 1 No. 1, January 4, 1999.

Western Pond Turtle- Main Page

From the Ponds Main Page.


The Bimonthly Electronic Newsletter of the Western Pond Turtle Project in Washington State

By Kate Slavens

Vol. 1 No. 1

4 January 1999

THE PURPOSE of this newsletter is to bring all the people working on the project together with all the current news and information. As you will read, there is a large number of people in many areas doing their part to help the western pond turtle recover in Washington, including many outside the state. I hope many of our recipients will respond with additions, corrections and comments to help make this the kind of newsletter you want and need to make your part work more successfully.

IT'S EXPENSIVE TO SAVE AN ENDANGERED SPECIES. We are very grateful for the generous contributions from The AZA Conservation Endowment Fund, The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Woodland Park Zoological Gardens and the Woodland Park Zoological Society Conservation/Education Fund. As you know, it takes both personnel and equipment to make a project like this successful. $43,830 is estimated to be the operating costs at Woodland Park Zoo for the head-starting and captive breeding. For our fieldwork, grant proposals totaling $12,700.00 are currently out and we should hear about those soon. If that comes through, it leaves $16,235.00 to make everything planned for 1999 work out.

1998 WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR. We had 20 transmittered females and located 18 nests, which produced 105 hatchlings. Of those 103 have survived to be head-started at Woodland Park Zoo. Captive breeding produced 4 hatchlings of western Washington genetics. A total of 79 head-started turtles were released into the ponds and lake in eastern Washington and 5 were released at the Lakewood ponds. Our mark and recapture efforts once again confirmed the health and growth of previously released head-starts and four more turtles were captured for the first time since 1985. It proves that just because we do not capture a turtle for ten years, it doesn't mean the turtle is dead, just too smart to get caught in a trap. We were also able to confirm several nesting areas that looked good from our perspective.

THE VOLUNTEERS are really the heart of this project. None of the fieldwork could be as successful as it is without the thousands of hours of volunteer time. I wish to express our sincere thanks to all who drove 250 miles to get to the site, checked turtles at 0500 and 2300 without complaint, and put up with wind, rain and intense sunshine. A special thanks to Dennis and Sondra Clark who finish what we start by checking the nests in the fall and caring for the hatchlings until they can be transported to Woodland Park Zoo.

FROGS FROGS FROGS. We also must salute Louis Hans for his dedication to the special task of removing bullfrog egg masses from the ponds and lake in Klickitat County. His final count was 187 egg masses. What is especially interesting is the numbers for each pond and the difference in peak times between the ponds. This information, combined with a couple more years of data will help us develop a plan for more effective bullfrog control. His wife, Karen, is currently involved in a project studying the bullfrog in eastern Washington and her research will also be to our advantage. Good luck, Karen.

THE PILES OF PAPER ON KATE'S DESK represent all of the current projects. Throughout the fall and early winter, I have been involved with sorting and reorganizing all of the field data that has been collected since 1990. This also includes the mark and recapture notes on the western painted turtles at the Skamania site. Having all that information neatly bound in notebooks will allow for much easier retrieval. Other projects IN THE WORKS are:

THE WASHINGTON STATE RECOVERY PLAN FOR THE WESTERN POND TURTLE is currently being completed by Dave Hays at The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. The final draft should be ready by the end of January 1999. This will serve as our guide for all future activities. I hope to provide all interested personnel with a copy of this document as soon as it is ready.

THE "WANTED" POSTER: The text and the general format have been completed. We still need better photos of the western painted turtle, the red-eared slider and the common snapping turtle to prepare it for printing. If any of you have good representations of these species, please let me know. As soon as they are chosen, Steve Raymond of Rare Reptiles will lend us his artistic talent and fantastic graphics software to prepare the finished product. I hope to print this by the middle of February.

A BROCHURE about the Western Pond Turtle Project is in the very beginning stages of being developed. It will highlight the species, all aspects of the project and credit all contributors. More later.

THE WESTERN POND TURTLE SURVEY AND MONITORING PLAN is being written by the Western Pond Turtle Working Group in Oregon and will be the protocol we will follow in so far as it covers our activities. Our project includes additional efforts, which will need to be written here in Washington. Wally English, at Woodland Park Zoo, is in the process of updating the protocols for captive breeding and head-starting. This will be a resource for any other organization which might in the future assist Woodland Park Zoo with this part of the project. The telemetry and nesting fieldwork that is at the heart of our project is also not covered in the above-mentioned work. I will attempt to write a protocol for this activity before the field season begins. Copies of these protocols will be available for all volunteers.

A WESTERN POND TURTLE WEB PAGE will be put on our personal web site, sometime in February. This will highlight the project with photos, advertise our t-shirts and provide a bibliography of literature about the western pond turtle. If you wish to visit this site, it will be available at: http//www.halcyon.com.slavens/

1999 FIELDWORK IN THE GORGE: Note to all volunteers: a meeting is scheduled for January 23 at 6:00 pm at the Slavens house. Please RSVP. We are once again planning a full season of fieldwork in Klickitat and Skamania Counties. Transmitters have been ordered and should arrive late January or early February. Trapping season begins April 1 and will continue until May 15. At that point, we will switch to telemetry and concentrate on finding turtle nests. This will continue until July 15. At this point, it is still possible that telemetry will not occur in Skamania County. We still need to secure funding for a full-time person to oversee that half of it, but by the next newsletter, that should be decided. So, volunteers, pull out your 1999 calendars and see what time you can sign up for. If you cannot attend our meeting in January, please call me to get scheduled.

THE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT at Woodland Park Zoo is busy adding information about the western pond turtle and the project into existing teacher's packets, such as "Washington Wildlife". They are also working on a school curriculum on endangered species, teacher training workshops and institutes, and fact sheets. The western pond turtle is being included in all appropriate publications to help make teachers, students and the public more aware of the species and of the plight of our wetlands. It was featured in a recent issue of Zoo Edition in the "Conservation Corner". Other interesting and exciting ideas are in the planning stages, such as field trip opportunities for teachers and a video program for classrooms. We'll keep an eye on their progress.

A SURVEY FOR WESTERN POND TURTLES IN PUGET SOUND LAKES AND PONDS is in the process of being organized. We will start with many of the sites surveyed in 1992 and add more that have come to our attention in the meantime. We have some good leads. Volunteers will be needed for visual surveying and possible trapping. It may be that some of the Gorge volunteers will conduct the trapping because they have more experience. It remains to be seen how many possible sightings of western pond turtles occur and how much trapping is necessary. Anyone interested in volunteering for this survey is asked to call Kate Slavens at 206-542-6751. Training sessions will be conducted in February and possibly March. The survey will begin April 15 and continue until July 1. Each volunteer must be able to visit a site at least three times during this period at times when turtles are more likely to be basking.

W.A.T.E.R. (Western Aquatic Turtle Education and Research) is still selling pond turtle T-shirts. We have a good inventory of Small to XX-Large and they are still $20.00 each. Remember, these T-shirts pay for our electricity, telephone and porta-potty at the study site. I'm sure we would hate to lose these luxuries. They can be ordered at P.O. Box 60061, Shoreline, WA 98160. THE NEXT NEWSLETTER is scheduled to be sent out to everyone in early March. If you know of anyone who was missed this time and should be on the recipient list, please let me know. You can either call me at 206-542-6751 or E-mail me at slavens@halcyon.com

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Frank & Kate Slavens
P.O. Box 645
Lyle, WA 98635

To send Frank or Kate an e-mail, our addresses are: frank@pondturtle.com or kate@pondturtle.com

Pages first went up in October 1995.

Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998,1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 Frank Slavens

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