Turtle death rise deemed ‘unsustainable’

The south-western snake-necked turtle.
The south-western snake-necked turtle.

THE City of Cockburn has launched an action plan to protect threatened native turtles after research revealed an unreasonably high death rate.

Research over the past 18 months of the Bibra Lake turtle population has revealed a higher than usual mortality rate in the area.

Murdoch University PhD student and researcher Anthony Santoro said the death rate for western snake-necked turtles was worrying.

“The rate of adult turtle mortality and nest predation witnessed is extremely unsustainable and if it continues, the risk of local population extinction will drastically increase,” he said.

Mr Santoro found 25 dead adult turtles in Bibra Lake during the 2018 nesting season, including 15 in one night on Progress Drive in October.

City of Cockburn’s Enviro Team installing nesting cages to protect the female turtles and their eggs at Bibra Lake.

He said the main causes were predators such as foxes and birds and vehicles along Progress Drive, but the City were working on several measures to protect the turtles ahead of nesting season, which runs from September to February and peaks in October.

“Several nesting cages and fresh sand will be installed on the lake’s western side, the feral animal control program has been ramped up and a campaign to educate drivers to slow down on roads near wetlands during the September-February turtle nesting season will start soon,” Mr Santoro said.

He said the level of turtle mortality in Bibra Lake was likely to be happening at other Perth wetlands.

City of Cockburn Environment Manager Chris Beaton said they were planning another round of fox patrols to coincide with the start of nesting season.

More news from around Perth