Western Pond Turtle

"From the Ponds"

Vol. 3 No. 2 – 10 August 2001

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. 3 No. 2 – 10 August 2001

Editor: Kate Slavens

THE DRAUGHT knocked us down a bit, but we prevailed so far. The temporal ponds did not hold any water this year and the permanent ponds started low and then went down from there. By mid-June, one of the ponds was dry and we believe a second pond has dried up too leaving only one pond with a little water at the Klickitat County site. It’s hard to watch, even if it can give us valuable information about how the turtles cope with such severe circumstances.

THANKS TO A VERY HEALTHY BUDGET this year, we were able to purchase extra traps, basking rafts, and new basking traps, which could be used in areas where the hoop traps were useless. Our thanks go out to our generous contributors, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife ALEA fund which covers all the volunteer mileage, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Partnerships for Wildlife Program for starting the field season personnel, Woodland Park Zoological Society Conservation Education Fund for most of our field equipment, Oregon Zoo Foundation Conservation Fund for covering all the equipment needed for our third site in the gorge, AZA Conservation Fund/Disney Fund for supporting the Education Department at Woodland Park Zoo and the work that has to be done during the off-season and all the private contributors. A new contributor, as of this spring, is Bonneville Power Administration. They will provide assistance for a three-year period helping to fund equipment and personnel.

THERE ARE A LOT OF NUMBERS TO CRUNCH this year. We captured a total of 257 turtles, which is astounding. These break down to 31.31.195. All but one of the 195 were head-started turtles. In total, 195 of the turtles captured were head-starts. The new basking traps caught 50% of the turtles, including three hatchlings and one yearling. Four other hatchlings were caught by hand. Two new, previously unmarked young adult females were also captured. We used 28 of our 32 transmitters. As a result, we were able to locate 26 nests, 16 in Klickitat County, and 10 in Skamania County. The most astounding nest is the 27th, located at the Steilacoom site where the western Washington head-starts have been released. It is their first nest and probably the first western pond turtle nest in that area for many decades. Two of the nests in the gorge were from head-started females, including a second nest from the female that nested last year. A total of 80 turtles were released this year leaving 6 at Woodland Park Zoo for an extra year of growth. Unfortunately, there were also losses. Two turtles, one head-start and one adult female were shot, one young turtle was run over by a car and one more female died of unknown causes. Our third site, Pierce, is trapping now, and I’ll report on that when the data comes in. With transmitters on so many of the head-starts at this site, it has been possible to monitor their movements throughout the year, giving us very valuable information both about the activities of the turtles after release and how they are coping with the new site. Choosing a site that meets the needs of the species can be a tricky thing, because the site needs to support these young turtles as well as the adults they will become in ten years. In order to accomplish all this, our volunteers put in more than 1500 hours of fieldwork. We really could not be so successful without them. Again I thank the Oregon Zoo for providing the volunteers that helped during the telemetry season at the Skamania site. It is so important to have that second person, and this year they were very successful finding females out on their nesting expeditions so that we could put a transmitter on them and get the nests. And they thought I was only trying to give them something to do between telemetry checks so they wouldn’t get bored.

GOOD NEWS FROM SOUTHWEST HOLDING. Three clutches of eggs were laid and the first turtle hatched yesterday with eight more eggs still looking good. There’s also a new face in the group. A western Washington male was found walking down the street on July 2nd in West Seattle and has now been added to the captive breeding program. On the same subject, an adult female was caught and photographed and then released up near Sultan. She would have been a very valuable addition, but finding her again since there was no trappable body of water nearby is nearly impossible. We have to hope she finds her way to the road again because finding a turtle in a large wooded area would be too difficult. The new genetics study has begun at the University of Puget Sound. It will be interesting to get the results and finally make sound decisions about the western Washington group.

THE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT is up to something, but I’m not sure what. Several members of the crew came down to the study site and learned more about the fieldwork, to be used in a new program they are working on. We look forward to seeing the end result. Let us know when it’s done.

WE’VE BEEN WORKING NIGHT AND DAY on the Bibliography for WPT. We are taking the list that I prepared and are scanning in the text for each item and will be able to put it all on CDs. This is a huge project, but when it is finished (how silly, since there are people out there writing more stuff all the time), it will be very useful for researching the literature.

THE NEXT UPDATE will probably be when all the turtles have hatched this fall and we can report some final numbers. How much the cool, rainy weather in June affected the eggs will be known. We could have a bumper crop filling up both zoos, or a partial hatch resulting in more average numbers. Only time will tell.

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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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