Time Running out for Turtles in San Jose, CA

1happyturtle

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First dead turtle at Overfelt on film. I found another one earlier stuck in the mud but I brought down the camera and missed it.
This video was filmed Saturday 9/6/14. This female seemed to have been eaten by one. Her head and limbs were all missing. It is a natural death but this and all turtles in the mud-hole were placed there by people :(

 

1happyturtle

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Yes, these turtles deserve humane treatment. If only people could see how often the RES would try to eat the bird down and feathers. It's really hard to watch.
What bothers me is that CADFW lifted the RES importation ban which would have slowed the huge population in the live market and pet trade. They literally destroyed a solution and now they demonize the turtles for being invasive. Even if the ban was in place, people can adopt RES or even get juveniles from rescues.

Below is an email I received from the Mayor of San Jose's office. I have never, ever suggested the turtles be moved to another natural body of water to spread parasites. I've even attached video and the article showing how turtles can be housed in stock tanks as in the case of the Atascadero lake rescue.
 

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1happyturtle

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Hi russian/sulcata/tortoise,

When the man-made percolation pond dries up the turtles may try to bury themselves in the mud or in the dirt along the shore or try to migrate.
Unfortunately, if they migrate they will be run over by cars because their first obstacle is a parking lot, residential area and even a high school. The park also has a 6 lane street out front. The turtles will likely be wiped out by raccoons at night if they try to climb out of the pond.
 

russian/sulcata/tortoise

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Where i live there is a little pond i hike up to on mount Diablo. In the pond there is western pond turtles this year is the first year i have seen it dried up. There is no other bodies of water near by, are the western pond turtles in the dried lake mud?
 

russian/sulcata/tortoise

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Also there is a man made pond really close to my house. Its a very big pond with lots of fish i think its 20 feet deep. But anyway I have seen people just release there red eareds, painted turtles, and also some map turtles in the pond. It's really sad people buying these turtles with out doing proper reasurch on them and having to release them when they get to big.
 

1happyturtle

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We believe that a rescue will be permitted very soon. The soonest would be this weekend. If you are in the San Jose area and would like to help in any capacity please join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OGTurtles/?ref=br_tf
I post new pics every week.

This is a map of Overfelt Gardens Park Pond: https://goo.gl/maps/ZU8SL

What we need:
***Volunteers who love turtles (^_^) **** Remember there are more than sliders in the pond! I have footage of softshells :)
* Sturdy long-handled nets
* Claw rakes
* Water (Preferably dechlorinated -
turtles need to be washed and identified).
* Large plastic tote bins for transport
* Bring a pair of dish washing gloves to wear
* If you have waders or muck boots bring them.
* Yummy turtle food as bait

If you would like to quarantine the turtles for 30 days for observation and careful rehabilitation please email [email protected]. We need "back up" foster homes and also permanent escape proof homes. Western Pond Turtles found at the location will be turned over to a wildlife center who has kindly assisted with this entire process. Countless people have assisted in this effort and I can't wait to post an update after the turtles have been rescued and list all the people who've helped make this happen.

 

ascott

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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"

And this is the exact reason I do not support these erroneous "clubs"....disgraceful.....
 

1happyturtle

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If you are in the San Jose area you are invited to the Turtles of Overfelt Gardens --- RESCUE!!!! (^_^)
We have obtained permission from the CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife Region 3 to only rescue the sliders.

Info: Sat 10/11 @ Noon
More details and RSVP *here*
I also included a list of supplies we will need.

Not everyone needs to go down to the pond and get all muddy :)
We need people to help wash turtles, take pics, keep records of the number of turtles, note gender, disposition etc so all the data can be submitted in a report written by the volunteer herpetologist who has made this rescue possible.

I look forward to sharing pics and vids with this community.

After a 30 day observation and quarantine period the turtles will be available for adoption to people with secure escape proof enclosures.

Thanks for your support!
 

1happyturtle

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Hello everyone! The rescue did happen on Saturday! Many pics and anecdotal stories here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OGTurtles/

Very special thanks to 'russian/sulcata/tortoise'
who helped gather up the dead turtles. It was not an easy task to do but the number of dead turtles found will be recorded in a report and submitted to CADFW. Your time and help is very much appreciated. Thanks for making a difference :)


Some amazing things happened Saturday morning---we caught the turtles in the parking lot as they were making an exodus out of the pond. They have gone without food for a long time and the water is increasingly filthy. Ten turtles were found in the parking lot of the park. As the day progressed fewer and fewer turtles could be caught with a net. In fact the animals stayed in the middle of the pond to observe us and waited for the food to float to them rather than come to shore to risk being scooped.
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/members/russian-sulcata-tortoise.43330/
Currently, I am housing 25 turtles and they will be on their way out to Creepy Critters Rescue out in Los Banos for continued quarantine. If you would like to assist please direct all donations to : http://creepycrittersrescue.com/


No surprise most of the turtles came in healthy and a few are under weight ofcourse. One was found with a hook in her mouth and few had "impact" injuries on their carapace. So far I only had to remove one leech and one male coughed up several down feathers. I have observed many turtles try to eat the goose and duck feathers. For the three days I've had them so far all are active, eating and super STRONG.

Some people to thank Kevin who connected me to Paul Haskins who obtained all the permission necessary to make this rescue happen. I have a list of volunteers in my post here. I wanted to follow up with Yvonne G and mention that you are 100% correct. In the end the fishing license was what was needed but this entire time we were "held up". Without the help of Paul Haskins to negotiate with CADFW these animals would be out loose in the neighborhood getting run over, and causing traffic accidents and suffer a slow death in the heat. We also have one clear case of a turtle crossing all 6 lanes to get to a business nearby. She was found and turned in to us during the rescue. Pure luck!
 

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