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Rescued snapping turtles put to death when no home can be found

Nov 09 2012
Robin Campbell, North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre founder, holds up one of three snapping turtles taken in during the summer. All three were put to death in October. 

Robin Campbell, North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre founder, holds up one of three snapping turtles taken in during the summer. All three were put to death in October.

Photograph by: Handout , timescolonist.com

Three snapping turtles have been put to death in Errington because the wildlife centre keeping them alive was unable to find new homes for the reptiles.

Two turtles found in the Port Alberni area and one caught in Metchosin last summer were euthanized.

The reptiles, which are not native to Vancouver Island, were housed at  the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre as a temporary measure. Last month, when no permanent home could be found, the B.C. Wildlife Service withdrew the permits issued to the wildlife centre to care for the turtles.

Taking the reptiles in was a problem since they have no natural predators here. If returned to the wild where they were found, apparently abandoned, they would compete with native species. A search for a foster home in eastern Canada was unsuccessful.

“We ran out of time and options to find them a permanent home,” said Julie Mackey, wildlife rehabilitator. “They’re considered introduced species so it’s not in our permit to keep them permanently and we’re not set up for that.”

Snapping turtles are aggressive by nature and special quarters were fashioned to keep them separate and to avoid harming each other.

As winter approaches, they would instinctively switch into hibernation mode and would need a wet, muddy habitat “and we’re not set up for that,” Mackey said.

“It’s a sad ending for an introduced species. We can’t consciously let these things go because there is a negative impact on the environment, so it’s a dilemma for us when we receive these non-native species.”

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