Friday 3 May 2019

Over 75 turtles rescued from east Arkansas wastewater tank – via Herp Digest

by Josh Snyder | April 23, 2019 .Arkansas Democrat Gazette

(Editor of HerpDigest, Turtles found in the filters/ tanks of waste water treatment plants is common all over the U.S. Any artificial pond-for example Turtle Pond in Central Park, NYC, In Turtle Pond ,when it rains, the excess water flows into an over-flow drain at the far western end of the pond and are usually caught in the filters at the end of drainage pipes into the tanks.. They are mostly red eared sliders that are now near 80-90% of the turtles in the park. What happens to them afterwards I don’t know. Go to for video of rescue and closer view of turtles. One snapper, rest definitely red-eared sliders.

Workers release the rescued turtles into the waters of the Mississippi River. (Courtesy West Memphis Animal Shelter)

Almost 80 turtles were rescued by animal control from a wastewater treatment filter over the course of two days in West Memphis, officials said. Employees at the plant, though, said this was a “small incident” compared to numbers they’ve experienced in the past.

The West Memphis Animal Shelter was notified by the neighboring wastewater treatment plant of the trapped turtles on Wednesday, said Wesley Burt, an animal control officer. By the end of Thursday, rescuers had pulled about 75 of the reptiles from the filter.

Turtles are a common sight in the treatment plant’s retention pond, Paul Holloway, superintendent of wastewater for the city, said. The animals find its waters a good place to live and breed, he said.

But when rains [it  gets bad], the sewage ponds are pumped to prevent overflowing, according to Burt. The pumped water flows into a concrete container about 20-feet deep before continuing on to the Mississippi River.

This is where the turtles became trapped, according to Burt.
Rescuers from the animal shelter assembled long extension poles with netting at the end and scooped the reptiles to safety, officials said. They were placed in kiddie pools, taken to the banks of the Mississippi River, and released into its waters.

“It was good to save the turtles’ lives,” Burt said. “We couldn’t just see them drown.”

Most of the saved animals were box turtles, though one was a snapping turtle, Burt said. According to officials, one of the animals drowned before it could be pulled from the hole.
Though Burt said this was the first time in the roughly four years he’s served at the shelter that they’d been notified of turtles being trapped in the pond’s filter, Holloway at the treatment plant said “this happens all the time.”

“This happened many, many times before,” he said. “Every time we bypass this happens.”

Holloway said that whenever they find turtles in the container they release them into the river. Further, he said his personnel have seen “way more than that.”
According to Holloway, he’s seen up to 400 turtles at a time during his approximately 12 years at the facility.
“This is nothing new,” he said.

However, efforts are being made to prevent this from happening again. Burt said the animal shelter are checking the spot daily to look for turtles, and that the water department intends to inform them whenever they intend to activate the pumps.

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