FWC cannot confirm report of turtle deaths

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist searches along the edge of Smith Lake, where the water level has dropped significantly. (Courtesy of FWC)

Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 9:51 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 9:37 p.m.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has not been able to confirm reports that dozens of turtles were killed in the Keystone Heights area recently.

FWC biologists were dispatched to the lakes in the area Monday after getting reports that dozens of dead turtles - many found at the end of Pinon Road on Smith Lake - did not appear to have any signs of traumatic injury.

However, the biologists only found two small turtle shells, each about six inches long. Neither had any viable tissue, the biologists said.

FWC spokeswoman Karen Parker said it was possible other carcasses could have been picked up before the biologists reached the area.

What they found while walking in the Smith Lake area and in the areas around Lowry Lake, Big Lake Johnson and Little Lake Johnson led them to predict there could be additional wildlife deaths.

According to Parker, the lakes have very low water levels and little to no vegetation to support aquatic life.

“The lakes all seem to be drying up,” Park said. “With the environment dwindling and more cold weather forecast, additional deaths can be expected.”

FWC is urging residents and visitors to report die-offs to the agency’s hotline at 800-636-0511.

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