Time Running out for Turtles in San Jose, CA

1happyturtle

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Beloved San Jose TURTLES

RUNNING OUT OF TIME!!!!

Due to the drought in CA, Overfelt Gardens' ponds are drying out and will actually be drained by state and local officials leaving abandoned pet turtles, red-eared sliders to migrate on their own through the park, residential and industrial areas including 6 lane McKee Rd.

Michelle states that residents even with a fishing license cannot "take" turtles which is in contradiction to California Department of Fish and Wildlife News: https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/page/2/ "For that reason, if you have a fishing license, there is no bag or possession limit for the legal take of any subspecies of pond slider (red-eared, yellow-bellied and Cumberland sliders), painted or spiny soft-shelled turtles, all of which are non-native." May 23, 2014

She also mentions that a major turtle rescue org will not help with the rescue. The org is authorized to recover and rehab native and non-native turtles. Her department will also not rescue the turtles and private individuals are not permitted to do so. Thus turtles, once the pond is drained, will naturally disperse. Unfortunately, the turtles must first scale the steep landscape from their ponds, travel the 33 acres of the park, scale a fence and face many lanes of traffic to "migrate".

Michelle Leicester District Fisheries Biologist Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara counties Cal DFW, Region 3 Office phone: (925) 933-1054[email protected]

Overfelt Gardens Park | www.sjparks.org/ | 368 Educational Park Dr, San Jose, CA 95112 (408) 251-3323

Red-eared slider turtles (RES) are mass produced for the food and pet-trade. Once they reach their full grown size they are abandoned at shelters, dumped in water ways or even natural habitats where they out compete the now endangered Western Pond turtle. There are many California based organizations which have dozens upon dozens of RES in need of loving homes in secure private ponds.

Overfelt Gardens can be seen on Google maps and Google Earth however images of the ponds are grossly inaccurate. There is very little water left and some ponds are dried out.

Solutions to this problem are to inform San Jose residents to never abandon their pets in these ponds if the drought should ever end and that their former pets now face certain death either by other wildlife in the park (racoons) or on the street where they will be traffic hazards. Lastly, if they are prepared to care for a turtle they should choose to adopt.
 

Yvonne G

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I think the interpretation of the Department of Fish and Wildlife's regulations is inaccurate. The regulation only pertains to the limit on Pacific Pond turtles (Actinemys marmorata) and doesn't talk to the taking of non-native species.
 

1happyturtle

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Hi Yvonne believe me I have been in several back and forth emails with the CDFW and this is their response:

6.9.14
"After careful consideration, it was decided that no rescue of any aquatic biota (including fish, turtles, or frogs) associated with SCVWD percolation pond dryback would be authorized or undertaken unless an endangered/threatened species was found. A staff biologist at SCVWD has provided me and my management with daily updates on SCVWD’s perc pond dryback work, as well as detailed information on all species encountered to date. Other than a single native fish, there have been no endangered or threatened species found to date. Drought-related rescue conducted elsewhere has been limited to native fish that have special status, or ESA listing status as endangered or threatened. However, shrinking habitat is resulting in mortality occurring even for these species. There is not enough water or habitat available to accommodate every animal that will be displaced due to state-wide drought.


CDFW is aware that the drought and the SCVWD’s maintenance activities are having an impact on turtles, including those in the Overfelt percolation facilities. Similar conditions exist throughout the south bay; I personally am not aware of any stream in my counties that is not expected to experience near total dryback. When the SCVWD realized this would be a critical drought year and began planning for dryback of their facilities, rescue and/or relocation of the native western pond turtle was a topic of discussion between myself and SCVWD biologists. However, upon exploring this possibility for the native pond turtles, it was learned that no legitimate rescue facilities were capable of taking them on due to resource and space limitations. If it were possible, western pond turtles would have received preference for any rescue accommodations that became available. Lacking rescue for natives, it is inevitable that non-native red-eared sliders will likely experience significant mortalities as the vast majority of them are feral (released pets), as well as ill adapted for drought. You also point out in your own email that the slider populations are excessive; I agree.


Trapped wildlife must be either culled (euthanized) or released within a 3 mile radius of where it was caught. Relocation is not legal, nor is taking into captivity without a scientific collection permit. (Title 14, California Code of Regulations, Section 465.5 (1); Fish and Game Code Section 1002). The response provided to you by the Park employee is somewhat erroneous in that it implies that CDFW could issue a permit for rescue or relocation of the turtles; however, there is no legal mechanism by which to permit “rescue or relocation” by private citizens. Permits can be issued for scientific research/collection purposes or a wildlife trapper can be registered/permitted by CDFW. Depredation permits may only be issued for euthanization, *not* relocation, of wildlife that is causing damage that can be documented and quantified. Trapping and relocating wildlife is therefore not legal and no permit can be issued for this purpose.

CDFW is sensitive to the negative effects being suffered by all wildlife state-wide as a result of the drought and regret that we are unable to facilitate or authorize rescue of turtles."

6.13.14

"CDFW is unable to authorize you as a private citizen to rescue wildlife. Rescue/relocation of any wildlife by a private citizen cannot be covered via a fishing license as that is not the intent of the authorization under which fishing licenses are issued. You do not have a Memorandum of Understanding with us nor are you a member, representative or affiliate of any rescue/rehabilitation organization that does have credentials from CDFW.

I have today spoken with both Mrs. Ginger Wilfong of Bay Area Turtle/Tortoise Rescue and Mr. Gilbert Castro of CTTC (California Turtle and Tortoise Club). Both organizations are registered with the Department of Fish and Wildlife as rescue/rehab groups for turtles and tortoises. If rescue were to be performed, it would have to be done under the auspices of one of these certified organizations.

The understanding I currently have, after my discussions with each of the groups I contacted, is that neither are willing to go to Overfelt Pond and rescue turtles. People I have spoken with at multiple organizations, are of the opinion, as am I and most other professional biologists, that turtles will disperse when the water source dries up, and that rescue is not necessary.

If you still have questions in this regard, please feel free to get back in touch.

Best regards,
Michelle
[email protected]"
Michelle Leicester
District Fisheries Biologist
Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara counties
Cal DFW, Region 3
Office phone: (925) 933-1054"
 

bouaboua

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This is my neighborhood. interesting but sad.
 

1happyturtle

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I hope all toroise forum members in NorCal help as much as possible in rehoming RES in the rescues in the area and help educate people about the really, really long-term commitment to these animals not to mention the expense. These abandoned RES are paying for the mistakes humans have made. If you look on Google Map these turtles face insurmountable obstacles in terms of "migrating" and finding a new home on their own.

Notes:
The park is open 8am to sunset every day and these turts are hungry because they'll swim right up to the edge and "beg".
 

1happyturtle

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Corrections: Overfelt Gardens Park in San Jose is open 10am to sunset and closed Mondays

Act now:

Update:
  • Up to 2 Park Rangers now guard the last remaining pond even on weekends. Supposedly they don't want people to get stuck in the mud.
I wish they were there when people dumped their turtles in the ponds!
  • Archive, updates and petition posted here: http://turtle2pond.tumblr.com/
  • Proof that the pond is occupied by turtles native to CA not just "invasive species" red-eared sliders here: WESTERN POND TURTLE pic taken at Overfelt Gardens Park here https://www.flickr.com/.../mjesfo/2759385842/in/photostream/
  • Penitencia Creek Park also in San Jose, CA and under the auspices of the Santa Clara Valley Water Dept is in a similar situation and below is a photo of a large softshell next to a slider. The photo was taken by Kevin Norred of TortoiseHome.org in June 2014
 

1happyturtle

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Video or remaining pond. I counted 27 RES brave enough to pass the army of geese and ducks to come to the edge of the pond. My friend counted a total of 40 because many would watch us from far away. Park authorities disclosed to another turtle enthusiast that there are around 100 turtles.

This pond is now a puddle. Many turtles have migrated to the remaining pond above.

To note, we all know turtles are survivors. If the temps climb and climb in August and September and they are uncomfortable they will aestivate in the mud for as long as possible. However, if we do get rain it won't be enough to restore the ponds. As long as people see turtles in the mud water they will think "hey great place to dump my turtles" without understanding these turtles have been eating: bread people give them (I've seen this myself) and geese poop. These ponds do not have aquatic vegetation as they are completely unconnected to natural streams, rivers or creeks. The pond was man made earlier this century.

Rescuing and rehoming is the best solution and in the process video tape it and release to all media that these turtles are removed because they don't belong here and people should please stop dumping their pets. If the CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife were to reverse their stance of DOING NOTHING it would be great PR for them and it would educate people about what happens to pet turtles.

The only org in CA with a Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with the CADFW is California Turtle and Tortoise Club which has refused to help.
I have an email archived at http://turtle2pond.tumblr.com/ clearly stating this.
 

Yvonne G

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You say that CTTC has refused to help, and yet Gilbert Castro, president of the silicon valley chapter said in the article that he would help if he were to be asked. Why would he need to be asked is what I'm wondering. This is a real shame. Those turtles need to be rescued.

 

1happyturtle

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Hi Yvonne ~ yes, in an email reply on 6.13.14 archived here from the biologist in charge of the region:

"I have today spoken with ... Mr. Gilbert Castro of CTTC (California Turtle and Tortoise Club). Both organizations are registered with the Department of Fish and Wildlife as rescue/rehab groups for turtles and tortoises. If rescue were to be performed, it would have to be done under the auspices of one of these certified organizations.
The understanding I currently have, after my discussions with each of the groups I contacted, is that neither are willing to go to Overfelt Pond and rescue turtles."


That is what disappoints me. These turtles are being abandoned by everyone. What is sad is we have volunteers and private ponds and even a fenced in sanctuary waiting for these turtles. I and other concerned people were in no way suggesting CTTC pick up turtles and get stuck with rehoming them. We have solutions waiting however we don't have the all important Memoranda of Understanding needed.

Red tape!
 

1happyturtle

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Photos taken Sunday 7/13 of just some of the turtles basking. There were more in the water and on the other side of the pond's edge.


Old vs current water level at Overfelt Gardens Park


I have also found on Yelp two pet stores which according to reviews sells baby RES and 1 Asian live food market which sells full grown female RES. All these businesses are close to this park and I wonder if people are buying the RES from the market and letting them go here to help them.
 

1happyturtle

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Hi KevinGG!
No nothing has changed with the Silicon Valley chapter of CTTC.
------------------
Recently I found an article about the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero which was allowed to save turtles from a lake. I asked the CADFW biologist of that region to recommend that the zoo save the turtles in San Jose. The complication is San Jose (Region 3) and Atascadero (Region 4) are 2 different zones.

I also post updates here if anyone is interested: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OGTurtles/
 

1happyturtle

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I encourage anyone with the time and interest to visit Overfelt Gardens after 10am and walk around and take a look at the dried up ponds. All those ponds used to have turtles. Now there is **only** one pond left and the traffic cone which has sat in the same place in the water is noting how fast the water is dropping every week.

If the it's the plan of officials to just have the raccoons finish off these turtles then they must recognize that there will be a HUGE PUBLIC OUTCRY over the number of carcasses laying around. This park if frequented by families and children. Sure you can send your maintenance crew down there and yes they have people who drive around in trucks to empty trash cans and sweep not to mention volunteers who pick up trash---but you can't clean up everything.

I deeply regret not getting footage of what looked like a partially buried or unearthed faded turtle shell in the thick mud. It was clearly dead. I moved the camera down and just didn't get the image. I'd hate to have to wait until I get a pic of a dead turtle to prove my point but it seems that officials just don't want to help.

Sure some turtles will scale the edge of the pond but many will not.
Here is proof of what happens to turtles in a drought:

Also this vid shows massive alligator snapping turtles aestivating and waiting in the mud for rain. These huge turtles are clearly in distress and would rather not be there. They only resort to burying themselves in the mud as a last ditch effort.
If these guys didn't help them they'd be dead:
 

KevinGG

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That's too bad. Have you spoken with the president of the cttc. The one yvonne said made a statement about helping if asked
 

1happyturtle

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Hi KevinGG, yes I did email him very early on plus in June I emailed the Chair of CTTC too.
I know that other CTTC members or the general public have tried to contact Gilbert Castro and have not received a reply.
On June 12th I was the one who asked the CADFW biologist to please contact Gilbert Castro because the Silicon Valley chapter is right in this area.
 

1happyturtle

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I received a call from the Chair of CTTC who clarified that incorrect information was published in this article .

CTTC *does *not have a Memoranda of Understanding with the CADFW and prior to this situation already voted to no longer take in Red-eared sliders.
--------------------------------------------------
On the CADFW front I was directed to a higher up in Region 3 and I am waiting for a response.
I reached out to the CADFW *again* because Region 4 allowed for a HUGE turtle and duck rescue
Atascadero Lake's turtles, left high and dry, find refuge at zoo

Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2014/08/28/3217141_turtles-atascadero-lake-zoo.html?sp=%2F99%2F100%2F&rh=1#storylink=cpy

Note that CTTC Central Coast Chapter took in sliders picked up at the lake.

So I proposed to CADFW that if a solution where the community was involved was able to save native and non-native turtles in Atascadero can a similar solution be implemented in Overfelt.

I'm waiting to hear back.

I took this video last week at Overfelt and around the 4:00 min mark onwards you will see the small softshell come and thrash the sliders
 
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