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July 31, 2013 at 7:57 PM

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Western pond turtles get ready for release


ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

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.

ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Alicia Ross, a volunteer at the Woodland Park Zoo, records measurements taken by Jeff Skriletz, with the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife, of an endangered Western pond turtle as it's prepared for release into the wild.

ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Cody Jones, a college intern with WDFW measures a 10-month-old endangered Western pond turtle.

For more photos, visit the gallery.

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This planet was designed specifically for mankind to live on with the condition of... MORE
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