MORTALITY EVENT: The DPI has released its report about a significant mortality rate of Bellinger River Snapping Turtles earlier this year.
MORTALITY EVENT: The DPI has released its report about a significant mortality rate of Bellinger River Snapping Turtles earlier this year. Contributed

Answers on turtle plague

THE Department of Primary Industries has published a report into the death of hundreds of Bellinger River Snapping Turtles following a series of investigations earlier this year.

The Bellinger River Snapping Turtle Mortality Event 2015 Epidemiology report details the results of investigations undertaken by Bellingen Shire Council, Environment Protection Authority, and National Parks and Wildlife Service following a report from local kayakers.

An estimated 432 turtles were observed to be dying or dead since February in the Bellinger River area, plagued by an infectious disease which caused blindness which prevented the turtles for hunting.

The turtle disease event may be symptomatic of environmental changes with a series of floods late last year and earlier this year.

The Bellinger River Snapping Turtle is only found along a 60 kilometre section of the Bellinger River and potentially within a small section of the Kalang River.

A risk management plan was developed by DPI, and used by all agencies, to mitigate the risk of the turtle disease spreading into unaffected areas.

Public access to some National Parks areas has been restricted under the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation for up to six months.



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