25-pound snapping turtle found in Oregon

File: American Snapping Turtle
File: American Snapping Turtle(Pixabay)
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 7:46 PM PDT
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HARRISBURG Ore. (KPTV) - Wildlife officials captured a 25-lb snapping turtle found wandering through a Harrisburg pasture on Apr. 28.

The invasive species, which wildlife officials say poses a threat to native fish and wildlife habitats, “not to mention human hands and feet,” was a product of illegal turtle trafficking.

Snapping turtles have powerful jaws and may aggressively bite when threatened. Their sharp beaks may remove chunks of flesh, according to ODFW Assistant District Biologist Marianne Brooks.

ODFW measured the male at 14″ wide and 20″ long, and likely more than 30 years old.

“This turtle had a head the size of a baseball, and a neck he could extend at least ten inches from his shell,” Brooks said, “You wouldn’t want to run into something like this if you were out fishing. You definitely wouldn’t want your dog to find it.”

It is against the law to purchase, possess, transport or release snapping turtles without a special license in Oregon. Non-native turtles thrive in Oregon waterways and easily out-compete native turtles. They arrive, as this one did, through illegal wildlife trafficking channels.

Turtles are among the most widely trafficked animals across the globe, according to ODFW.

Releasing invasive species into the wild in Oregon is a crime.

“Often online vendors either do not know the rules of the state they are shipping to or just don’t care,” said Rick Boatner, ODFW biologist and invasive species coordinator. “People who buy them don’t care or don’t know about the consequences non-native species can have to native species when they are released into the wild.”

People with knowledge of crimes against fish, wildlife, or habitat should report to the Turn In Poachers (TIP) Line. 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP (*677) from a mobile phone. Or email: TIP@osp.oregon.gov.