The biggest threat to endangered Western pond turtles is the bullfrog. This skilled predator isn't native to the Pacific Northwest, so local animals haven't developed defenses against it. Bullfrogs eat so many baby Western pond turtles that they've pushed the entire species to the brink of extinction. Oregon Zoo keepers raise newly-hatched turtles in captivity until they are too big for bullfrogs to eat and then release the turtles safely back into the wild.
Newly-hatched baby turtles are collected and brought to the Zoo for a safe, predator-free place to grow up. After 10 months at the Zoo, the well-fed turtles are large enough to avoid most predators and are released back into the wild.
The project will raise and release enough western pond turtles to create a self-sustaining population in the wild. Biologists are also restoring turtle habitat and controlling non-native predators to help save this species from extinction.
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