Unwanted turtles spotted in Lake Taupo
“We don’t want these turtles becoming widespread in the wild in New Zealand,” biosecurity officer Brett Bailey said.
Last August, one of the turtles was captured at Lake Taupo after being spotted at Rainbow Point while another was picked up by a tourist on the northern foreshore before Christmas and handed into authorities.
This month there have been a further two sightings south of Taupo township.
Mr Bailey said they suspect the sightings were of a pet or pets that had escaped or been deliberately released to the wild when the owner no longer wanted them.
He said they are a danger to New Zealand waterways and the council is putting rules in place that would make releasing turtles into the wild an offence.
“They are omnivorous and may eat native species such as eels and native fish, and compete for food with introduced trout.”
While New Zealand is generally too cold for the turtles to get established on any scale, Lake Taupo has geothermal heat venting at various sites around the lake shore which could potentially create pockets where successful breeding could occur.