SAFE Western Pond Turtle Conservation Projects

In early 2015, AZA SAFE worked with Western pond turtle conservation experts including representatives from the AZA accredited institutions, state and federal agencies, conservation NGOs, and academic institutions to identify and prioritize conservation actions. A 3-year SAFE Conservation Action Plan was developed using SAFE’s new collaborative conservation process to address those needs and includes projects that are aimed at achieving population sustainability. These projects fall within four thematic areas including conservation capacity, public action, research, and Species Survival Plan® (SSP).  Each project, designed to incorporate collaborator expertise to maximize efficiency and effectiveness, is comprised of detailed goals, actions, timelines, budgets.  All projects are coordinated by AZA members who work closely with project collaborators to execute conservation actions, achieve successes, and identify future needs. More detailed information about each project can be found in the Western Pond Turtle Call for Participation.

Conservation Capacity Projects Public Action Projects Research Projects Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Projects
 

Western Pond Turtle Rangewide Conservation Coalition Project

Project Coordinator: Jessie Bushell

Project Collaborators:
Project Funders:
☑ Project funding opportunities available. ☑ Project funding partially secured. ☐ Project funded.
Project Description Conservation Challenge Addressed Critical Actions to Date
Establish a Western Pond Turtle Rangewide Conservation Coalition to create & implement a comprehensive WPT conservation plan. Conservation action and communication for Western pond turtle are poorly coordinated range-wide resulting in sub-optimal efficiency and effectiveness.
  • The Project Coordinator is working with collaborators to initiate the Rangewide Conservation Coalition.  Steps are bing taken to organize an initiation team meeting in spring 2017 at the Sacramento Zoo.
 

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Public Engagement Project

☑ AZA Project Coordinator needed.

Contact SAFEwesternpondturtle@aza.org to learn more about this project and the Project Coordinator role.

Project Collaborators:
Project funding opportunities available. ☐ Project funding partially secured. ☐ Project funded.
Project Description Conservation Challenge Addressed Critical Actions to Date
Bolster collaboration among stakeholders and create effective public conservation messages and action opportunities. Currently available tools to effectively engage key stakeholder groups and the general public in conservation of the Western pond turtle are insufficient.
  • AZA SAFE is seeking a coordinator for this project.
 

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Unidentified Shell Disease Project

Project Co-Coordinators:  Jenny Pramuk and Fred Koontz

Project Collaborators:
Project Funders:     
☑ Project funding opportunities available. ☑ Project funding partially secured. ☐ Project funded.   
Project Description Conservation Challenge Addressed Critical Actions to Date
Develop and implement effective methods for identifying, treating and/or preventing shell disease in Western pond turtles and monitor treatment results for possible recurrence. An unidentified shell disease is affecting Western pond turtles in Washington State and its cause and potential presence in other parts of its range are unknown. Effective identification, prevention and treatment methods are needed.
  • The Project Coordinators are working with a team dedicated to eradication of the Unidentified Shell Disease. Research being conducted by this team is ongoing to assess any causal factors and identify effective treatment.
  • Funds have been provided to conduct CT scans on 95 Western pond turtles across 6 populations in Washington state to assess the prevalence of the disease.
 

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Population Assessment 

Project Coordinator:  David Shepherdson

Project Collaborators:
Project Funders:
☑ Project funding opportunities available. ☑ Project funding partially secured. ☐ Project funded.
Project Description Conservation Challenge Addressed Critical Actions to Date
Identify and address key knowledge gaps about WPT distribution, demographics, and population trends across its range. Data regarding current Western pond turtle distribution, demographics and populations trends are inadequate in much of its range, making management decisions difficult.
  • The Project Coordinator is connecting with current collaborators and identifying new ones to prioritize conservation actions, and review budgets and timelines.
 

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Habitat Mapping Project

☑ AZA Project Coordinator needed.

Contact SAFEwesternpondturtle@aza.org to learn more about this project and the Project Coordinator role.

Project Collaborators:
Project funding opportunities available. ☐ Project funding partially secured. ☐ Project funded.   
Project Description Conservation Challenge Addressed Critical Actions to Date
Determine the spatial extent of suitable WPT habitat and connections to enable development of better-informed conservation priorities and actions by conducting a habitat mapping exercise. Knowledge of the distribution and suitability of Western pond turtle habitat is inadequate, making prioritization of key management actions (e.g., habitat restoration or acquisition) difficult.
  • AZA SAFE is seeking a coordinator for this project.
 

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Western Pond Turtle SSP Sustainability Project

Project Coordinator: Jessie Bushell

Project Collaborators:
Project Funders:
☑ Project funding opportunities available. ☑ Project funding partially secured. ☐ Project funded.
Project Description Conservation Challenge Addressed Critical Actions to Date
Optimize husbandry practices for animals in the Western Pond Turtle SSP and monitor outcomes of population augmentation / reintroduction projects. WPT husbandry best practices need to be updated and assessment of outcomes of population augmentation programs needs to be expanded.
  • Protocols have been developed and funding secured to initiate genetic testing of SSP animals to differentiate Northwest from Southwest pond turtles in the population and manage them accordingly.
  • Preliminary steps have been taken to organize a Western pond turtle husbandray workshop that will take place in early 2017.
 

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