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Wildlife experts: Don’t free unwanted turtles

Published 8:58am Wednesday, October 23, 2013

ST. PAUL — Wildlife managers want pet owners to find permanent homes for unwanted turtles rather than setting them free.

One of the most common pet-trade turtles is the red-eared slider. They’re often sold as cute, little hatchlings but grow rapidly and eventually need a large space to roam.

Christopher Smith, nongame wildlife biologist with the Department of Natural Resources, said they’re not native to Minnesota. But he said released and escaped red-eared sliders have been documented to survive the winter in Minnesota waters. And he said they may compete with native turtles — including the threatened Blanding’s turtle — for food, nesting sites and choice basking areas.

The DNR said unwanted animals should be gifted to schools or park naturalists, or given to local humane or nonprofit societies that specialize in them.