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ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES
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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Western pond turtles get ready for release

An endangered 10-month-old Western pond turtle, native to Washington, is examined, weighed, sized, tagged and marked for identification in preparation for its release into the wild in an undisclosed location in the Columbia Gorge or the South Sound. The turtles were collected from the wild as eggs, hatched and "head started." They're back from the brink of extinction from a low of about 150 in the early 1990s to around 1,500 now because of a program at Woodland Park Zoo and the Oregon Zoo. Where: Behind the scenes at Woodland Park Zoo ponds with WDFW and Zoo biologists and interns. They feed on insects and pond vegetation. In turn, they're eaten by nonnative bull frogs and large mouth bass and native otters, mink and skunk. Their health is a wetland health indicator. They can live to be 80. The release in August will involve more than 100 of the young turtles.

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