News release from Biosecurity Queensland
Biosecurity Queensland and Toowoomba Regional Council have commenced a hunt for exotic pest turtles to protect local fauna, following Australia’s first discovery of a Chinese stripe-necked turtle (Ocadia sinensis).
The turtle was suspected of being dumped in Toowoomba’s Bicentennial Waterbird Habitat.
Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister John McVeigh said a Chinese stripe-necked turtle plus nine non-native turtles were recently found during a recent fauna assessment.
"Biosecurity Queensland and the Toowoomba Regional Council have commenced monitoring the ponds to see if any more pest turtles are present,” Mr McVeigh said.
“It’s the first time a Chinese stripe-necked turtle has been found in Australia, and we need to ensure it doesn’t have an opportunity to breed and spread.
“This turtle is a Class 1 pest because it can prey on native animals, compete with them for space in the wild, and may also carry diseases that can spread to native animals.
“It’s illegal to keep exotic animals such as this turtle in Queensland without a permit. For someone to have dumped one in our waterways is very irresponsible."
Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor Paul Antonio said it was likely the turtle was an unwanted pet dumped into the waterway.
“Any dumping of exotic pets into local reserves or parks poses a major threat to Australian fauna. People need to think about the repercussions of their actions,” Cr Antonio said.
“Council is working with Biosecurity Queensland to check if any other turtles have been dumped.”
No further pest turtles were found in the first round of monitoring, with further monitoring scheduled to commence after winter.
Turtle experts from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection will assist with the monitoring to identify native turtles.
Members of the public should report any knowledge or sightings of exotic animals to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.
Visit the Biosecurity Qld website for more information on Chinese stripe-necked turtles.