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Look for turtles in Oregon

Motorhome owners who travel to Redmond, Ore., for FMCA's convention in August might want to be on the lookout for turtles on roads and in parks, yards and campgrounds, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).

“It’s not uncommon to see female turtles on land at this time of year as they leave the water to lay their eggs,” said Susan Barnes, a conservation biologist with the Oregon with the Department of Fish and Wildlife Northwest Region. “If you see one, the best thing to do is let it continue on its path. Don’t try and return it to the water.”

Barnes, a member of the Native Turtles of Oregon organization, works to conserve Oregon’s turtles all year. “Our native turtles are in decline, so anything we can do to help makes a difference.”

She suggests the public can help by reporting turtle sightings on the Native Turtles of Oregon Web site.

“This helps us identify the location of our native turtles as well as invasive turtles that we may try and remove,” said Barnes.

Oregon has only two native turtles: the western painted and the western pond. They are both protected by law; it is illegal to take them from the wild and to keep them as pets.

Non-native turtles include red-eared sliders and snapping turtles. It is illegal in the state to buy, sell, possess or release non-native turtles. Red-eared sliders are relatively easy to identify. They have red “ears” (markings) on the side of their heads. If you’ve just realized you are in possession of a non-native turtle, contact your local ODFW office.

Both the western painted and western pond turtle are listed on the state sensitive species list and highlighted in the Oregon Conservation Strategy as species in need of help. Population declines are due to habitat loss, degradation of nesting areas by invasive plants, illegal collecting, disease and competition from non-native turtles.

For more information, visit the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Web site, www.dfw.state.or.us

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