Western Pond Turtle

"From the Ponds"

Vol. 4 No.1 – 27 January 2002

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. 4 No.1 – 27 January 2002

Editor: Kate Slavens

YES, THE PROJECT IS STILL ALIVE. I hope to update everyone about the 2001 field season and our plans for 2002.

The 2001 season was successful despite the problems with the drought in our area and actually too much rain during the early summer. Our ponds in Klickitat County mostly dried up by mid-summer and we are still just not sure how well the turtles have fared. The trapping season this coming year will be especially important to determine the effects of drought on western pond turtles. We already have most of the transmitters. But one other problem exists. That is the fact that our supplier of epoxy was bought out and the new company has discontinued the product. If anyone receiving this has any suggestions for a product that will keep the transmitters on the turtles, please let us know.

NUMBERS, NUMBERS, and more numbers: In 2001, we captured a total of 289 turtles, of which 225 were previously head-started. Two of the turtles were previously unmarked young adult females, seven were hatchlings and one was a yearling. The young turtles were either captured by hand or in our new basking traps. Transmitters were put on 33 adult females, which netted us 27 nests. From these nests, we recovered 109 hatchlings for head-starting at Woodland Park and the Oregon Zoos. Three previously head-started females nested in the wild this year and two nests were successful. The female at the Lakewood site laid seven eggs, of which five were fertile, but the weather evidently sabotaged the successful incubation. We released 83 head-started turtles into the wild ponds (those with water) and kept four back for more growth. This means we have released a total of 497 turtles since 1991 and all the capture data indicates at least 95% survival. Unfortunately there were also four mortalities in 2001. One head-started adult female died of unknown causes, one older adult female was the victim of a drive-by shooting, one young head-start was also shot by some young boys and one other was run over by a car.

CAPTIVE BREEDING at Woodland Park Zoo produced six hatchlings, of which two were twins. Strangely the larger of the twins (4.0 grams) was the weaker of the two and died. The smaller (1.6 grams) is thriving. If you’ve never seen a 1.6 gram turtle, we’re talking very tiny and very cute! For those not familiar with the hatchlings of this species, most hatch out weighing 5 to 9 grams. You will be able to view the head-starts at Southwest Holding thanks to a web cam that will be installed by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife late February or early March. You should be able to access this by going to the web sites of WDFW or Woodland Park Zoo or us. We also have a new adult male in the program that was found walking down the street in West Seattle last July. We sure appreciate the opportunity to have him share his genetics for the cause. Speaking of genetics, tissue samples were taken of the turtles from Washington and are now being sent to the University of Puget Sound for analysis. We hope to finally settle the question of how pure the “western Washington” genetics are and how close they are to the gorge turtles and the Portland, Oregon turtles.

OUR BUDGET LOOKS GOOD again for 2002. We are very appreciative for the generous grants from the Woodland Park Zoological Society Conservation Education Fund, Bonneville Power Administration, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife ALEA Fund, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Partnerships for Wildlife Program. We have also been the recipient of several very nice donations from private people.

DESK PROJECTS this winter include helping with several reports to various agencies, working on the western pond turtle bibliography (which became a much bigger project that first envisioned), sorting and filing all my slides, putting together all the data from the field season, and preparing for several public programs. We spoke to the Vashon-Maury Island Audubon Society, and in March will do two more.

THE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT at Woodland Park Zoo is planning another Teacher’s Workshop scheduled for March 16. One of the highlights of the afternoon will be a slide program on the turtle and a visit by several head-starts from Southwest Holding.

IT’S TIME FOR ANOTHER VOLUNTEER MEETING. This year we will meet on Sunday, February 17 at 6:00 p.m. at our house. Please RSVP to us at 206-542-6751. And remember to look at your spring and early summer schedules so you can sign up on the calendar.


Kate Slavens

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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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