A VIGILANT community and the keen eye of a local resident have resulted in the Department of Agriculture and Food nabbing a pest turtle in a suburban pond.
Department biosecurity officer Glen Coupar praised the efforts of the community of a Marangaroo Buddhist cultural centre – Pho Quang Temple – for capturing the red-eared slider turtle.
Mr Coupar said the species of turtle was listed in the top 100 of the world’s worst invasive exotic species.
“It is important this pest does not establish in the Western Australian environment as many of our native turtles, small fish and frogs are potentially at risk,” he said.
“They are known to prey on birds, particularly hatchlings, and other native species.
“Red-eared sliders can compete aggressively with native turtles for food and favoured basking sites.
“They can also affect the breeding success of native turtles by competing for nesting sites and eating hatchlings.”
Mr Coupar said the temple community played a vital role in capturing the pest.
“The turtle was reported to us earlier in the year but evaded our traditional traps,” he said. “It took a community effort to help drain the pond, remove plants and relocate the long necked turtles and fish.”
A local resident reported seeing the turtle in the dried out pond last week, which allowed it to be captured.
“This is a great example of the collaborative work by community groups, the public and the department to minimise biosecurity threats to our state,” Mr Coupar said.
“Any captive turtles should be reported to the department’s Pest and Disease Information Service and not released into the wild where they can damage our native wildlife. Once these turtles breed and become established in a water body, they are extremely difficult to remove.”
The red-eared slider is a freshwater turtle with a distinctive red stripe behind each eye. The turtles can grow to about 30cm long and unlike native turtles, sliders can retract their head into their shell.