Red eared slider turtle is surprise catch on Royal Canal at Mullingar.
June 20th, 2012 | by Paul Bourke
Royal Canal report by by Dermot Broughan
Over the past week no anglers have been fishing the lake.
Anglers fishing the canal west of Mullingar have reported good Roach to 1lb. and Tench up to 3½. Tony Masterson reported nice Tench fishing west of Mullingar and an unusual catch on Sunday evening. He caught a 30cm Red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), a species of semi-aquatic turtle native to the southern United States. The presence of the animal in an Irish canal is a matter of some concern. It is illegal to release any species that is not normally resident in Ireland into the wild, but an increase in the pet trade has meant that such introductions have become regrettably common. This is a particular problem with turtles as they are small when bought but are often quite long lived and can attain considerable size.
Although this species is unlikely to become invasive in Ireland, IFI are concerned that introductions of this sort may have other negative effects. This species is omnivorous and will feed on a wide range of material including aquatic vegetation, insects, small fish, aquatic snails, small amphibians and carrion. The animal was caught several times over the space of three weeks in a canal that is managed as a fishery by IFI and Waterways Ireland and had been interfering with bait used by anglers. A secondary threat from the release of non-native species is the introduction of harmful pathogens which could have potentially devastating effects on native wildlife. Inland Fisheries Ireland’s position is that non-native species should never be released into the wild and that pet owners should act responsibly when dealing with unwanted pets.
The turtle has now been removed from the Royal Canal by Inland Fisheries Ireland and will be re-homed in the coming days in a suitable location.