Once a baby turtle that’s born into captivity reach 30 grams, it is ready for microchipping and release.
That’s the case for 170 western painted turtles raised at Aldergrove’s Greater Vancouver Zoo this past year, said wildlife biologist Andrea Gielens.
The zoo has recently been working with Wildlife Preservation Canada to prepare the last of this year’s babies for release into the wild by injecting the smallest microchip available for use in wildlife into the turtles.
The microchip process is called “tagging” and is fairly simple and quick; it is done after each turtle has been photographed, measured, and named, Gielens explained.
“The microchip is very small and similar to the chip that you would put in your cat or dog. It is inserted under their skin using a needle, and to the turtle it feels similar to getting your ears pierced,” she said.
“That way we can track them and identify them when we find them during our monitoring efforts in the field,” Gielens elaborated.
While most of the turtles were already released, as they each grew to an appropriate size, the biologist said the last few were just set free in multiple wetland locations across the Fraser Valley.
Gielens noted that releasing them in a variety of sites helps to increase the chances of success in establishing a larger and stronger turtle population.
“It is critical that we save this species as it is the last native species of freshwater turtle left in B.C.,” Gielens said, emphasizing the importance of the conservation work.
“The turtles are really charismatic,” she added. “People love seeing them out at ponds and so we really want to make sure we save this species for future generations.”
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