The alligator snapping turtle has been found in Oregon. The Statesman Journal reports on Oct. 22 that the invasive species was discovered at Prineville Reservoir and had to be killed. This was the first time the alligator snapping turtle was seen in eastern Oregon.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife had to kill the alligator snapping turtle because it is considered invasive and non-native. The turtles are common in the southern part of the United States, but they have never been seen in eastern Oregon before. They are considered to be aggressive and pose a threat because they can consume native fish. A similar problem appeared in Wyoming in 2012 after a fisherman caught an alligator snapping turtle in a lake.
The alligator snapping turtle may have been someone’s pet. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife states that pet owners can run into trouble with large and aggressive animals that are difficult to keep. Some resort to dumping them in local reservoirs or fishing areas. This may have been how the turtle ended up at Prineville Reservoir. Alligator snapping turtles can grow to reach over 200 pounds.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife asks pet owners not to dump animals around the state and to contact them for help. It is also asking anyone who sees alligator snapping turtles to notify the department. Officials do not want the invasive species to take over local areas.