Western Pond Turtle Release

by Fiona Edwards, SPP Graduate Research Assistant

Anthony, Fiona, Tim, and Jamar prepare to release the turtles.

Fiona, Anthony, Tim, and Jamar prepare to release the turtles.

In mid-April, 10 western pond turtles (WPT) were released from Cedar Creek Corrections Center (CCCC) back into the wild. The turtles were housed at CCCC for 4 months where they received care from 2 inmate technicians, Jamar Glenn and Timothy Nuss, for shell disease. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and veterinarians at PAWS determined the turtles were healthy based on new shell growth, regular basking, and consistent appetite. WDFW biologists will monitor their progress as they reenter their natural habitat.


Tim and Jamar finish releasing turtles.

The release marked the end of SPP’s first season participating in the WPT recovery effort. A WDFW biologist organized the release. Participating in the release were: inmate technicians Mr. Glenn and Mr. Nuss, along with SPP Liaison and CCCC Classification Counselor Anthony Pickard, CCCC Superintendent Douglas Cole, CCCC Correctional Unit Supervisor Cheryl Jorban, Correctional Officer James Erwick. Upon arriving at the site, we geared up into our muck boots and carried the turtles into the water. Mr. Glenn and Mr. Nuss released the first set of turtles, wishing them well as they swam away. Then the rest of us took turns returning the turtles to their home. Afterwards, the biologist taught us more about the turtles’ habitat and their behavior in the wild. We were shown a turtle nest and learned about how they lay their eggs and the long period the eggs and hatchlings remain underground before emerging and crawling towards water.

Fiona releases a turtle.

Fiona releases a turtle.

After months of hard work, including the construction of a new turtle facility at CCCC, it was rewarding to be a part of this crucial step toward recovery. It was especially enjoyable because the inmate technicians were able to attend the release, a first for SPP – thank you to WDFW and CCCC for making their attendance possible. Visiting the site allowed all of us the chance to better understand the significance of rehabilitating the turtles and reminded me of the importance of each of our partners’ contributions to the recovery effort. The turtle release wouldn’t have been possible without the collaborative power of PAWS, WDFW, CCCC, and Woodland Park Zoo. Thanks for your continuing support!

Stay tuned for a blog from SPP Technician Jamar Glenn about his experience working with the turtles. For a video on the release, click here.

WDFW Biologist, Mr. Erwick, Jamar, Tim, Superintendent Cole, Mrs. Jorbin, and Anthony look at a turtle nest.

WDFW Biologist, Mr. Erwick, Jamar, Tim, Superintendent Cole, Ms. Jorbin, and Anthony look at a turtle nest.


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