DWT time and money being wasted trying to catch dumped terrapins at Bystock

PUBLISHED: 08:00 19 May 2018

Terrapins at Bystock reserve pool near Exmouth. Picture by Simon Horn

Terrapins at Bystock reserve pool near Exmouth. Picture by Simon Horn

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Dumped pet terrapins have been feasting on the wildlife which an Exmouth beauty spot is known for, according to Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT).

The landowner says the hard-shelled creatures - abandoned at the Bystock Nature Reserve - have had a ‘detrimental impact’ on the insects living there.

The terrapins, which are the size of dinner plates, live on the larvae of under-threat dragonflies and damselflies, as well as frogspawn.

Concern has been raised that the terrapins’ eating habits could threaten the existence of the dragonflies which call the ponds their home.

Stephen Hussey, of DWT, said the charity has already wasted time and money on trying to remove the terrapins, without success.

He added: “We are aware of terrapins living in the lake at our Bystock Pools nature reserve. We think they were put there without permission by people who wanted to dispose of unwanted pets.

“Unfortunately, as non-native species, terrapins have a detrimental impact on local wildlife. They eat the larvae of aquatic insects, especially the dragonflies and damselflies that Bystock is rightly known for.

“In the past we have tried to remove the terrapins by live-trapping them, however, this is a difficult and expensive process and so far it has met with limited success.

“As a charity we’d rather not spend valuable time and resources trying to collect people’s pets, so our plea is for members of the public not to dump them in this or any of our 49 other nature reserves.”

Budleigh Salterton resident Emma Hurrell, who enjoys regular visits to the ponds, raised concerns about the creatures living at Bystock.

In a letter to the Journal, Emma said she saw the creatures while she walked at the ‘fantastic’ nature reserve twice over the bank holiday weekend.

She said: “I was a little disturbed to see three terrapins living there, quite happily.

“As far as I am aware, terrapins eat frogspawn, dragonfly larvae and even small bird life.

“Should we be doing something about this?”

Emma also said the terrapins - which are from the turtle family and are usually indigenous to North America – are the ‘size of dinner plates’ and easy to find.

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