With a grant awarded to Parks and Open Space (POS) and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, staff have been working hard to protect nests of Western pond turtles from predators and improve habitat for juvenile turtles. The hard work paid off when staff witnessed several turtles successfully hatch and make it down to the water.
Western pond turtles are being considered for listing as a federally threatened species. Though we have three natural area parks with remnant populations, Western pond turtles are in decline around the state and these may be the first juveniles in years to successfully hatch at this site. If they make it through these precarious early stages, Western pond turtles can live over 50 years in the wild.
In the summer, Western pond turtle females lay their eggs in nests that they dig on land. Hatchlings may emerge in the fall, but most hatchlings in Oregon spend the winter in the nest and emerge in the spring. Hatchlings, about the size of a quarter, must then crawl from the nest to aquatic habitat. Nest predation is known to be high, but less is known about the survival of hatchlings due to their small size and cryptic behavior.