For Immediate Release - May 27, 2010

Environmental Officials Join Volunteers to Release Freshwater Turtles at Middleborough Pond Friday

Ongoing effort to protect endangered Northern Red-bellied Cooter

WHAT:

Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Commissioner Mary Griffin will join volunteers in Middleborough on Friday to release 115 hatchling Northern Red-bellied Cooters - an endangered turtle species found only in southeastern Massachusetts - as part of a conservation effort led by MassWildlife, a division of DFG. Originally known as the Plymouth Red-belly Turtle, Northern Red-Bellied Cooters are listed as endangered species at both the state and federal levels. They are the Bay State's second largest freshwater turtle, after the snapping turtle.

WHO:

  • DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin
  • MassWildlife staff
  • Conservation volunteers

WHEN:

Friday May 28, 2010 Time: 10:30 a.m.

WHERE:

Long Point Road, between Pocksha and Great Quittacas Ponds, Middleborough

DIRECTIONS:

From Rte 495 take Exit 4 for Rte 105 south. Follow 105 through Lakeville center and

past Assawompsett Pond on left and stay straight when Rte 18 turns to the right. Take left on Long Point Road and follow across causeway between Pocksha and Great Quittacas Ponds to meeting/release site.

BACKGROUND:

The hatchlings were removed from the wild last fall and paired with partnering educational and scientific facilities across the state as part of a program called "Headstarting." Headstarting accelerates growth and reduces the likelihood of death during a turtle's first year of life. As part of the program, cooperating partners raise the turtles in warm aquarium environments with unlimited food, allowing them to grow faster, and making them less vulnerable to predators when they are finally released.

Representatives from the following organizations partnered with DFG on the headstarting project: Berkshire Museum, Buttonwood Park Zoo, Museum of Science,

National Marine Life Center, South Shore Science Center, Thornton W. Burgess Society, Zoo New England, and students from 13 Massachusetts schools and colleges.