BEND, Ore. - Alligator. Snapping. Turtle.
A man reported seeing the giant turtle in Prineville Reservoir while on a fishing trip last week.
The culprit: a turtle native to the American South but foreign to the Northwest.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said the capture of an alligator snapping turtle is a first for Eastern Oregon.
And 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," Wray said, "and release them when they get too big and aggressive to keep as pets."