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Saving turtles from foxes

Two researchers from Latrobe University have been busy at Winton Wetlands taking measurements of freshwater turtles on the reserve.

Dr. Donald McKnight and Angela Simms from Latrobe University’s Centre for Freshwater Ecosystems spent four days in April capturing and measuring turtles to get a better idea of population numbers and the condition of turtles on the reserve. The work is an important part of a project just getting under way to help protect turtles from being killed by foxes.

At Winton Wetlands and other locations around Australia, turtles are threatened by foxes able to destroy eggs and catch and kill hatchlings before they reach maturity.

The information just gathered will contribute to a broader project being funded by the Australian Research Council (a government research funding body) as a ‘Linkage’ grant. Linkage grants seek to support research that can build long-term cooperation between researchers and commercial and other organisations (like Winton Wetlands) able to apply the outcomes of the research in practical ways.

The broader project will aim to test new cost-effective methods being developed to protect freshwater turtle nests at Winton Wetlands and other sites throughout the region. The challenge might best be described as “finding ways to outfox the foxes”.

The Latrobe visitors captured and measured over 200 turtles across four different sites at Winton Wetlands, capturing both the Murray River Short-necked Turtle (Emydura macquarii) and the Eastern Long-necked Turtle (Chelodina longicollis).  All were released later.

We’ll provide updates as this work progresses