Arizona Game and Fish, Phoenix Zoo unveil results of non-native turtle study

PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Every year, hundreds of unwanted pet turtles are released into Papago Park area ponds and other community lakes.

Now, after a three-year study, biologists have found a new way to trap and track these non-native turtles.

Arizona Game and Fish and the Phoenix Zoo unveiled the results of a study and the concern, biologists say, is one they've been searching for a solution for years.

"We have these invasive species that have been dropped off by the general public and we try to keep those numbers down, but we're concerned that if they can possibly leave the park, could they get into natural waterways surrounding the zoo or in the state," said Bradley Poynter of the Phoenix Zoo.

The solution? Transmitters attached to the non-native turtles after setting traps for them and then placing on a tracking device.

"For the last 12 years, we've been doing a capture and capture study at the zoo, looking at the non-native turtle population and over the last few years, we've noticed the population in that front pond has really decreased and so we decided to affix transmitters on these turtles and see where they're going," said Cristina Jones of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Today, biologists have successfully placed transmitters on 10 male and 10 female turtles, releasing them back into the waters.

Now, these turtles out-competing, spreading disease, or preying on native wildlife are no longer a concern.