Saving the Western Pond Turtle
It takes a village to save a species. This week the Sacramento Zoo is honored to host a Western Pond Turtle Rangewide Conservation Coalition Project workshop. Representatives from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Fish and Wildlife, Unites States Geological Survey, United States Forest Service, United States Department of Defense, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, San Francisco Zoo, Oregon Zoo and more are gathering at the Sacramento Zoo. The workshop will focus on strategizing how we can work together, creating a range-wide conservation plan to save the Western Pond Turtle.
Western Pond Turtles are found in the most western of the United States. In Washington and Oregon the species is designated as Endangered. In California it is a Species of Special Concern and listed as Threatened. Their population is drastically declining primarily due to habitat loss from urbanization and conversion to agricultural needs. Another cause of decline is due to non-native turtles (such as the Asian Red-eared Sliders) being released into Western Pond Turtle habitats, thus out-competing them. This species has been designated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums as a SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) focal species.
Partner zoos along with state and local authorities, private organizations, and various nonprofits have been working in a variety of ways to conserve the Western Pond Turtle for several years. They are now coming together to combine resources and efforts thanks to the SAFE program.
The Sacramento Zoo is home to one of the largest populations of Western Pond Turtles housed within an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) facility and the Zoo is an active participant in the AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for them. As the only aquatic turtle native to California, we feel strongly about our direct involvement in their future – in the zoo community and in the wild.
The Sacramento Zoo is a proud supporter of the SAFE program for western Pond Turtles. The Western Pond Turtle Rangewide Conservation Coalition Project will bring together a meeting of the minds and result in engaging public and private organizations with a memorandum of understanding and ways for everyone to play a part in saving the Western Pond Turtle.