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Endangered Western Pond Turtles Rehabilitate in Prison

June 2, 2016

By Tim Kelly

DOC Communications

In December, nine endangered Western Pond Turtles were brought in to Larch Corrections Center by the Sustainability in Prisons Project because of LCC's close proximity to wetlands the turtles inhabit (Tim Kelly , DOC Communications) Watch video on YouTube YouTube video

YACOLT - In December, nine endangered Western Pond Turtles were brought in to Larch Corrections Center by the Sustainability in Prisons Project because of LCC's close proximity to wetlands the turtles inhabit.

The SPPs mission is to bring science and nature to prisons, but it also provides inmates with skills they can use after release. And the program makes prison safer by providing work that engages inmates and helps keeps them out of trouble.

Inmates, and animal lovers, Joseph and Terrell saw a flyer last year about the new program. After completing an essay and interviewing for the technician position, they were chosen out of 30 applicants.

The turtles are infected with shell disease. It's unknown how they contract it, but along with predators eating their eggs, the disease is one of the reasons they're listed as an endangered species by the state. After veterinarians at the Oregon Zoo provide initial medical treatment, prison inmates provide the long-term care needed to help the turtles fully recover and be released back into the wild.

Western Pond Turtles can live up to 50 years. The recovery effort has led the population growth from around 100 to over 2000.

The turtles were released in late May and in July they will be recaptured for a check-up. Joseph and Terrell are working with a new group of turtles to rehabilitate and return to the wild.

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