Story last updated at 3:27 p.m. Thursday, September 12, 2002

Homer snapping turtle likely to face execution
by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

The snapping turtle found last week in the Greer Road pond owned by Jack and Nancy Allen is an unwelcome guest as far as the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is concerned.

According to department officials, if nobody elects to keep it as a pet, the turtle will likely be killed.

It was not clear where the turtle came from, though Fish and Game assistant area biologist Del Frate suspected it was a discarded mail-order pet. A check of the pond did not turn up any more of the predatory reptiles, commonly found in the eastern Lower 48 states.

Del Frate down played the turtle's potential to be a major ecological disruption in Southcentral Alaska, but he did stress that it is not acceptable for Alaskans to turn their exotic pets loose.

"Our main concern is that it is illegal to intentionally introduce anything into the wild," Del Frate said. "The bottom line is, don't do it."

It is uncertain how long the turtle had been living in the Allens' pond, but Coowe Walker, a watershed biologist with the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve, is fairly certain it could survive in Homer indefinitely.

"They are very aggressive predators," she said, adding that it didn't surprise her that the Allens' pond no longer seemed to have any frogs. "They'll eat just about anything."

Del Frate said that in the past Homer has had incidents with several introduced bird species including pigeons and ducks, but reptiles were something new.

"What do they do (with unwanted reptiles) in New York? They flush them down the toilet where they live in the sewers for years," Del Frate said. "Here people just throw them out in the backyard pond."

Sepp Jannotta can be reached at sjannotta@homernews.com.

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