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August 9, 2013 at 10:11 PM

Endangered turtles reintroduced to Puget Sound area, Gorge

A western pond turtle swims into a protected pond. (Woodland Park Zoo)

A western pond turtle swims into a protected pond. (Woodland Park Zoo)

More than 100 endangered western pond turtles wiggled into protected habitat in three sites in Washington on Friday, according to a Woodland Park Zoo news release.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Woodland Park Zoo reintroduced the turtles in Pierce and Mason counties and the Columbia River Gorge as part of a wildlife-recovery project to boost the reptile’s numbers.

The western pond turtle population has grown from about 150 reptiles in 1990 to between 1,200 and 1,500 today across Washington wetlands in four counties, according to the news release.

Last week the critters were measured and prepared for the release.

The turtles could fare well in the Columbia Gorge – 95 percent of the turtles that have been released there survive every year, according to one study, the news release noted.

Comments | More in Environment, General news | Topics: Columbia River Gorge, western pond turtle

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