BEND, Ore.The first alligator snapping turtle found in the Eastern Oregon wilderness was pulled out of the Prineville Reservoir, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported Monday.
A man reported seeing the giant turtle in the reservoir while on a fishing trip last week.
While the alligator snapping turtle is native in the southeastern states, officials consider it an invasive species in Oregon. While it is rare to find them in western Oregon, ODFW Invasive Species Coordinator Rick Boatner, said ODFW has had reports of alligator snapping turtles.
"I'd hate to see these turtles get established in Oregon," said Boatner. "We already have problems in the Willamette Valley with common snapping turtles."
Officials said the alligator snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in North America, and can grow up to 250 pounds.
Department biologist Simon Wray said he thinks it was a pet that someone released into the reservoir.
"People get these turtles when they are small and release them when they get too big and aggressive to keep as pets," Wray said.