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Pest turtle found in Sydney street | thetelegraph.com.au

Pest turtle found in Sydney street

The Daily Telegraph

February 28, 2012 12:17PM

A SPECIMEN of the world's most invasive turtle species has been handed over to NSW authorities after a group of children was found playing with it in a street in south-western Sydney.

The Primary Industries Department says a member of the public recognised it as a red-eared slider turtle, declared by the World Conservation Union as one of the world's 100 worst invaders.

It was unclear whether the rogue turtle was a pet or if it had been dumped and found by the children, a DPI spokesman said.

DPI Invasive Species Strategy Officer Nathan Cutter said the native US turtle was a pest in Australia on par with foxes, myna birds and cane toads.

Anyone found with one can face fines of up to $80,000.

"It is illegal to keep or sell red-eared slider turtles in NSW without an authority and heavy fines or imprisonment can apply to unlawful activities," Mr Cutter said in a statement.

"The turtle is very aggressive and can quickly out-compete native species for food and space in our waterways."

The red-eared slider turtle can also carry diseases and competes with native turtles for nesting sites, as well as having an appetite for their hatchlings.

The turtles are not only illegal to have as pets but are bad tempered and can inflict painful bites, he added.

The turtle has distinctive red or orange stripes behind its eyes and narrow yellow stripes marking the rest of its head and legs.

Sightings can be reported to the National Animal Pest Alert hotline on 1800 084 881 or a local NSW DPI office.

The turtle would be destroyed, a DPI spokesman said.

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