Alligator snapping turtle found in wild in eastern Oregon - KPTV - FOX 12

Alligator snapping turtle found in wild for first time in eastern Oregon

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Photo: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Photo: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Photo: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Photo: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
PRINEVILLE, OR (KPTV) -

Oregon fish and wildlife officers said the first alligator snapping turtle ever found in the wild in eastern Oregon was removed from Prineville Reservoir last week.

The alligator snapping turtle is native to the southeast United States and it's considered invasive in Oregon.

Fish and wildlife officers said the aggressive turtle eats primarily native fish, but it can also capture other animals, such as ducklings. It's also a safety hazard to people because it has "quite a bite."

Simon Wray, an ODFW conservation biologist, said someone likely kept the turtle as a pet and then released it into the reservoir.

"People get these turtles when they are small and release them when they get too big and aggressive to keep as pets," he said. "It's a poor choice for a pet and the environment."

A fisherman first spotted the turtle and reported it to ODFW. Biologists captured it the following day.

Alligator snapping turtles are rare in the western United States, but there have been reports of sightings.

An ODFW invasive species official said the Willamette Valley already has problems with common snapping turtles.

"I'd hate to see these turtles get established in Oregon," said Rick Boatner, an ODFW invasive species coordinator.

Alligator snapping turtles are the largest freshwater turtle in North America and can grow to 250 pounds.

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