SALEM, Ore. -- State Fish and Wildlife officials are now using Craigslist to crack down on turtle trafficking.
Oregon Fish and Wildlife Conservation Biologist Susan Barnes is on a mission to rid our area of the invasive red-eared slider turtle. The turtle, which is native to the Southeast, has been showing up in huge numbers here in the Northwest.
Biologists said it is threatening our already endangered native turtles by taking over their habitat, attracting predators, and introducing disease.
"Because a lot of these sliders originally were pet turtles coming out of the pet trade where they are unhealthy conditions," said Barnes.
Barnes said illegal turtle trafficking is partially to blame. And a lot of it is happening on Craigslist. Barnes says once brought into the state, the invasive species are often abandoned in the wild where she fears they are gradually overrunning our native turtles.
But biologists think the problem goes beyond Craigslist.
"We’ve found illegal turtles in pet stores," said pet store owner Rodney Carroll. Carroll says he won’t sell any turtles at his pet store, but knows other stores that have sold the prohibited turtles. "The bottom line if you see a water turtle in a store it’s probably illegal," said Carroll.
Currently, is it not illegal to buy or sell the red-eared slider in Washington.
ODFW said one of their biggest challenges is keeping the turtles from crossing the state line.
Right now the state is not arresting anyone for illegally buying or selling the turtles. ODFW just wants to educate the public about the consequences the silent invader.