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Vermont Spiny Softshell Turtle Vermont Fish Wildlife

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Vermont Spiny Softshell Turtle Vermont Fish Wildlife Powered By Docstoc
					                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Estimates for the Missisquoi Bay population range from
 How To Release a Hooked Turtle
Bait on a fishhook may look like a tasty meal to a turtle
but this can lead to accidental hooking. Sometimes an
                                                                             Vermont’s                                                                                                               A      n odd
                                                                                                                                                                                                      turtle to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          120 to 200. No population has ever been documented
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          on the New York side of Lake Champlain and no

unlucky cast will snag a turtle’s shell or leg.                            Spiny Softshell                                                                                                            be sure,
                                                                                                                                                                                                      the spiny
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          other populations are currently known to exist in New
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          England or Quebec.
Here’s how to remove hooks and prevent unnecessary                                                                                                                                                                           Given the rare nature of this unique turtle and the
death to the unfortunate animal.
Grasp the carapace (upper shell) near the tail with your
                                                                               Turtle                                                                                                                 softshell
                                                                                                                                                                                                      is easily
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          limited habitat, it is important to avoid the loss or
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          degradation of suitable habitat. If we respect the needs
thumbs up. Don’t hold by the tail.                                                                                                                                                                                        of these threatened turtles, we can hopefully enjoy this
                                                                                                                                                      DIANE PENCE                                     from other
This can injure a turtle. Hold the                                                                                                                                                                                        unique species for generations to come.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      turtles found
turtle with its head down and                                                                                                                           in Vermont by their very pointed snout and their leathery
belly towards you, well away                                                                                                                            shell. But these are not the only things that make this
from your body.                                                                                                                                         shy turtle unique.
Or, support the turtle with one                                                                                                                            Spiny softshells depend on beaches for their
hand underneath the lower shell                                                                                                                        survival. They need undisturbed sand or gravel
(plastron) and hold the base of                                                                                                                        beaches to lay their eggs. Even basking, which                                              Missisquoi Bay
the tail with the other hand for                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Canada
                                                                                                                                                       aids digestion and egg maturation prior to laying,
control.                                                                                                                                               is important for softshell population health.                                                                       United States
Cover the turtle with a heavy cloth,                                                                                                                   Unfortunately, suitable habitat on Lake Champlain                           East Alburg
shirt, jacket or bag to calm it down.                                                                                                                  has been negatively impacted by development.

                         Find a strong stick or rod and                                                                                                   Today, this species is found in and near the lower
                                                                                                                                                       Lamoille River and around Missisquoi Bay, including

                                                                                                                                      LAWRENCE PYNE
                             let the turtle bite it. Gently,                                                                                                                                                                                          Swanton
                                but firmly hold the                                                                                                     parts of Quebec. Yet, historic records indicate the
                                 turtle’s head in its shell                                                                                            spiny softshell were more common in the past.
                                  with the stick. The                                                                                                     The softshell arrived in Lake Champlain at the
                                  turtle will not be able                                                                                              end of the glacial era, approximately 10,000 years
                                  to push its head out or
                                 drop the stick. This will                  Their Future is                                                            ago. In 1853, Vermont’s famous naturalist, Zaddock
                                                                                                                                                       Thompson, reported spiny softshells in the lake. By
                               keep the head still and the                                                                                             1936 researchers considered them to be very rare
                              mouth open but occupied.
With a pair of pliers, or if necessary, by hand, gently
                                                                             in Our Hands                                                              in Lake Champlain, and speculated that occasional
                                                                                                                                                       hooking mortality, predation and pollution of the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         North Hero
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          St. Albans Bay

remove the hook the same way it went in. If the hook                                                                                                   Winooski River could be reasons for their scarcity.
is all the way through the flesh, cut the barb to make                                                                                                  Habitat loss likely played a role too, and the Winooski
removing the hook easier. If you cannot remove the                                                                                                     River no longer supports a population.

hook, cut the fishing line close to the hook.                                                                                                              In 1987, the spiny softshell was state-listed as                                                 Spiny Softshell Turtle

Once the hook is removed, release the turtle
                                                                                VERMONT                                                                threatened in Vermont. In 1991, spiny softshells                                                       Distribution in

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  e Ch
immediately. Be very careful and stay alert. Don’t                                                                                                     were nationally listed as threatened in Canada and                                                    Lake Champlain
                                                                                                                                                       officially listed as threatened in Quebec in 1999.

underestimate the strength of an animal in fear!                        FISH AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT
                                                                                                                       Today, we estimate that spiny softshell turtles
                                                                                           (802) 241-3700                                              number over 200 in Lake Champlain and consist of               South Hero                 Lamoille River
                                                                                                                                                       two main groups or populations. The lower Lamoille
                           AGENCY OF NATURAL RESOURCES                                                                                                 River population is estimated to be 60 individuals.
                               FISH & WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT
10M - 9/07      / 802.241.3700   103 South Main Street, 10 South • Waterbury, Vermont 05671-0501
Softshell Turtle Truths                                                                                                                Threats                                                                               What You Can Do
     This turtle was named spiny softshell because the                    Hatchlings come out of the nest, or emerge, between              Direct loss of nesting,                                                                Do not disturb turtles on their nesting and basking
front edge of the carapace (upper shell) behind the                  late August and October. Timing of emergence is critical          basking and winter                                                                    sites. Stay at least 300 feet away and honor warning signs
turtle’s head is studded with knobby                                 because spiny softshell turtles hibernate under water.            hibernation sites through                                                             when posted. Use binoculars to get a great view.
projections called tubercles.                                        Hatchlings must reach water before the ground freezes to          changes to shoreline and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Boaters and anglers should maintain a respectful
The carapace                                                                     avoid certain death.                                  development.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             distance from nesting and basking sites to avoid accidental
is flattened and
                                                                                      Spiny softshells in Lake Champlain                    Dams on rivers. They                                                             hooking or injury from boat propellers.
covered with soft
                                                                                   hibernate for almost six months, generally          alter the shape of the
leathery skin                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Remove garbage from beaches to avoid attracting
                                                                                     from November to April. They tend to use          river, act as barriers to
instead of                                                                                                                                                                                                                   skunks and raccoons to nesting sites throughout the
                                                                                      the same overwintering sites every year.         movement and migration,

bony plates.
                                                                                                                                       and change water flow

                                                                                                                                                                                                        ELIZABETH THOMPSON
                                                                                       These sites are called hibernacula.
                   VAN BIETEN

Small sharp                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Keep livestock and house pets away from nesting sites
                                                                                                                                       and levels. Changing
projections                                                                                Spiny softshell turtles like habitat that                                                                                         during the summer.
                                                                                                                                       water levels can cause nest
roughen                                                                                has some aquatic vegetation and a soft          flooding and egg mortality.                                                                 Learn how to properly release a hooked turtle to
the carapace                       Basking is critical for digesting                  bottom for feeding.
surface, making                                                                                                                             People disturbing           The Missisquoi River Delta                           reduce stress and injury to both parties. If you hook a
                                      food and developing eggs.                         Spiny softshells come out of the water
it feel like                                                                                                                           the turtles when they are        provides habitat for softshells.                     turtle while fishing or when it is on land, put it back in the
sandpaper.                                                                       in sheltered places and bask in the sun for           nesting or basking, causing                                                           water and contact Fish & Wildlife at 802-241-3700.
                                                                                 hours at a time. Fallen trees with underwater         this shy species to abandon
     Females spiny                                                                                                                                                                                                               Get involved. Observe and report turtle sightings and
                                                                                 limbs, mudflats, sandbars, rock causeways, and         their activity and retreat to
softshells are much larger than                                                                                                                                                                                              nesting activities in your area.
                                                                     floating platforms offer good basking sites.                       the safety of water.
males. Females can reach a shell length of                                                                                                                                                                                       Support spiny softshell conservation programs.
up to 21 inches and weigh as much as 25 pounds. Males                     Adult female spiny softshells travel long distances,              Aquatic activities, such                                                         Purchase a Conservation License Plate. Donate any
reach a maximum carapace length of about eight inches.               especially in early May and late August. This is when they        as boating and fishing,                                                                amount to the Nongame Wildlife Fund on your Vermont
                                                                     move between their nesting and summer areas and their             during the nesting period
     Spiny softshell turtles eat crayfish, aquatic insects,                                                                                                                                                                   income tax form, on hunting and fishing license
                                                                     overwintering sites.                                              may delay or discourage
earthworms, tadpoles, frogs, and minnows.                                                                                                                                                                                    applications or by direct donation (see below).
                                                                          Spiny shoftshells may live more than 50 years.               nesting or physically
     Female spiny softshells are sexually mature at about                                                                              damage animals. Anglers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Spiny softshell recovery efforts in Vermont are funded
twelve years old. Their shell length at maturity will be                                                                               may mistakenly hook                                                                     by tax-deductible contributions to the Nongame Wildlife
seven to eight inches. Males shell length at maturity will                                                                             turtles while fishing. Boat                                                              Fund. Direct gifts are accepted, payable to:

                                                                                                                                                                                                        EVERETT MARSHALL
be about half that size. Softshell turtles in Vermont and                                                                              traffic causes a risk of boat
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Nongame Wildlife Fund
Quebec may take longer to mature because their growth                                                                                  propellers injuring turtles.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Vermont Fish & Wildlife Dept.
may be slower at our northern location.                                                                                                                                                                                        103 S. Main St., 10 South
                                                                                                                                            Raccoons and
     Mating typically takes place in April and May.                                                                                    skunks love turtle eggs           Spiny softshell turtles will                          Waterbury, VT 05671-0501
Females dig nests in open areas along the shore of the                                                                                 and hatchlings and these          nest on gravel beaches.                               Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department’s Nongame and
lake or river in June. A female will lay about 20 eggs,                                                                                predators tend to find them                                                              Natural Heritage Program (NNHP) manages and enhances
which she buries in the sand or gravel. Good sun                                                                                       easily. Waste food left behind by picnickers in areas                                   Vermont’s native plants, natural communities, and animals
exposure is a must, because soil temperature determines                                                                                where turtles nest can attract predators and increase the                               that are not hunted of fished. Our mission includes
how long the eggs take to develop and hatch.                                                                                           risk of predation. Uncontrolled dogs can also be a threat                               preserving Vermont’s rich and varied natural heritage for
                                                                                                                                       to softshell turtles.                                                                   present and future generations.

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