Researching Northwestern Pond Turtles in the East Cascades


Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Conservation Wildlife Biologist and Conservation Strategy Intern are working to mark and re-capture northwestern pond turtles to better understand their population and movement corridors east of Hood River.

Kaly Adkins and Tessa Ott of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife track northwestern pond turtles in Mosier, Oregon.

The range of the northwestern pond turtle is primarily west of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains, stretching from Puget Sound to Baja California, at elevations ranging from sea level to about 5,000 feet.

Map of the area where northwestern pond turtles can be found

In Oregon, they primarily are found west of the Cascades at elevations lower than 6,000 feet. The largest populations are located in the drainages of the Willamette, Umpqua, Rogue, and Klamath Rivers, but smaller populations are scattered throughout lowland aquatic habitats of western Oregon and the east Cascades.

Some fun facts about the Northwestern Pond Turtle:

• If they run out of basking sites on logs or rocks, northwestern pond turtles sometimes conserve warmth by stacking on top of one another.

• Hatchlings are only about the size of a quarter, making them very vulnerable to predators for the first few years of their lives.

• Similar to a fingerprint, turtles have a unique pattern on their plastron that can be used to identify unique individuals.

• At the first sign of danger, basking turtles will dive for cover under water. When threatened, pond turtles can retract their head and legs into the protection of their hard shell.

About Author

Adam is a Public Information Officer for the Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife

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