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Western Pond Turtle
Western Pond Turtle


::Think twice before you buy a turtle:

  • Turtles live a REALLY long time - sometimes more than 20 years! 20 years is a long time to commit.
  • By purchasing a turtle, you are encouraging pet stores to continue selling turtles that may be illegally caught in the wild.

::If your turtle escapes or you let it go into a pond or wetland, there are serious consequences:

  • Releasing domesticated turtles is illegal and cruel.
  • Your pet is used to being fed on a regular basis and doesn't know how to find its own food. It may slowly starve to death.
  • Your turtle may not know how to avoid predators and could be eaten.
  • It may carry diseases and parasites that could devastate native turtle populations.
  • The most serious consequence is that non-native turtles CAN survive in Oregon, and are displacing native turtles and other wildlife.

::DO NOT release it into the wild!

  • Try to return it to the pet store where you bought it. If they won't take it, call the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife regional office at (971) 673-6000.
  • It is especially important not to release your pet red-eared slider turtles because they are a non-native species and are out competing the native turtles in the area.

::Irresponsible pet store sales:

  • The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is cracking down on illegal turtle sales.
  • If you suspect a pet store is selling wild-caught turtles, you can report them by calling 971-673-6000.


This section highlights the many federal and state laws regarding turtles in Oregon.

Federal Laws

::Food and Drug Administration (Title 21, Part 1240)

Federal laws state that any turtle under 4 inches cannot be sold or distributed in the United States to reduce the spread of salmonella carried by young turtles.

"Viable turtle eggs and live turtles with a carapace length of less than 4 inches shall not be sold, held for sale, or offered for any other type of commercial or public distribution."

::Lacey Act (Title 18, Part 3372)

Lacey Act refers to the illegal act of removing wildlife from the wild to be sold.

"It is unlawful for any person to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase any fish or wildlife or plant taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law, treaty, or regulation of the United States."

State Laws

In Oregon there are general and specific wildlife and state laws that pertain to native and non-native turtles.

  • It is prohibited to remove wildlife from their natural habitat take, import, export, transport, purchase or sell, or attempt to take, import, export, transport, purchase or sell. This includes removing native turtles from the wild or moving native turtles from one area to another. Oregon State Statute – Wildlife laws (ORS 497, 498)
  • No turtles shall be imported into the State of Oregon with carapace lengths of less than four inches except for any government agency, privately financed research groups and zoos and wildlife exhibits. Oregon Department of Agriculture (OAR 603-011)
  • The Department may take samples of turtles, tankwater or other appropriate samples from turtles sold, distributed or given away and cause laboratory examinations to be made. In the event turtles, so sampled, are found contaminated with Salmonella the Department may order the immediate humane destruction of any or all of the lot of turtles from which the samples were obtained. Oregon Department of Agriculture (OAR 603-011)
  • It is unlawful for any person to hunt, trap, pursue, kill, take, catch, angle for, or have in possession, either dead or alive, whole or in part the Western pond turtle and the Western painted turtle. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (OAR 635-044)
  • Prohibited species may NOT be imported, released into the wild or possessed alive in captivity without a special permit. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (OAR 635-056). If you have questions about this, contact ODFW’s NW Region Office in Clackamas at (971) 673-6000. Prohibited turtle species include:
    Snapping turtle Chelydridae All species and hybrids
    Chinese pond turtle EmydidaeChinemys All species and hybrids
    Pond turtle EmydidaeClemmys All nonnative species
    Painted turtle Emydidae — Chrysemys All nonnative sub-species
    European pond turtle Emydidae — Emys orbicularis
    Blanding’s turtle Emydidae — Emydoidea blandingii
    Map turtle Emydidae — Graptemys All species and hybrids
    Asian pond turtle Emydidae — Mauremys All species and hybrids
    Pond slider Emydidae — Pseudemys and Trachemys All species and hybrids (Red-eared slider)
    Common musk turtle Kinosternidae — Kinosternon odoratum
    Common mud turtle Kinosternidae — Kinosternon subrubrum
    North American soft shell turtle Trionychidae — Apalone All species and hybrids
    African soft shell turtle Trionychidae — Trionyx triunguis

::State Law - Scientific taking and holding requirements

  • Any person desiring to take wildlife for scientific purposes must first secure a Scientific Taking Permit by applying to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (OAR 635-043)
  • Any person desiring to hold birds, mammals, amphibians or reptiles for rehabilitation purposes must first obtain a Rehabilitation Holding Permit from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (OAR 635-044)

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The Lower Willamette Turtle Conservation Project was formed to share expertise among various organizations and agencies involved in turtle conservation and to promote appreciation and conservation of turtles by all Oregonians.
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