Western Pond Turtle Rehabilitation Program

The western pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata) is a state listed endangered species and one of only two native turtles in Washington State. Some adult turtles in the wild are struggling with a shell disease. The cause of this disease is unknown, but it appears treatable. The partnership to care for these turtles includes Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), veterinarians at PAWS, Woodland Park Zoo (supporting Cedar Creek’s program), and Oregon Zoo (supporting Larch Corrections Center’s program).

In the wild, WDFW biologists capture turtles that show the shell disease, and transport them to PAWS for veterinary treatment. Turtles needing longer-term care then move to Cedar Creek or Larch Corrections Center to receive daily cleaning, feeding, and monitoring by trained incarcerated technicians. When deemed ready by veterinarians and WDFW biologists, the turtles are released back to their home habitat.


From the left, SPP’s program coordinator Fiona Edwards, DOC’s program liaison Anthony Pickard, and turtle technicians Nuss and Glenn joined a turtle release early in 2014. Photo by WDFW biologist.

At Cedar Creek, the program was co-located with the Oregon spotted frog rearing program, and the same technicians worked in both programs. The frog program has been suspended and SPP can now devote more resources to the turtles.

Cedar Creek has been caring for turtles from the Puget Sound region since 2013.

Larch Corrections Center outside of Vancouver, has just started a second turtle program, caring for turtles from the Columbia River area. In December, 2015, they received their first batch of turtles.


On the underside of a western pond turtle’s shell, an area eaten away by shell disease shows regrowth. Photo by Sadie Gilliom.

Blogs about the Western Pond Turtle Program

Biological Science Technician at Cedar Creek speaks about his time with SPP (2018)

New Biological Science Technician Position, and One of the Newest is Feeling Thankful (2017)

Cedar Creek Turtle Release 2017

New Turtles and New Technicians! (2017)

Turtles and Plantain at Larch Corrections Center (2017)

A Tribute to Tammy (2016)

Larch’s First Turtle Release: A Technician’s Response (2016)

A Successful Turtle Release (2016)

New Turtle & Frog Technicians

A Big Thank You for the Amazing New Turtle Shed! (2015)

A Convicts Redemption (2014)

Western Pond Turtle Release (2014)

New to the Frog and Turtle Program! (2014)