British Columbia wildlife experts are reminding people not to net and collect painted turtles from their habitat.
“It is illegal,” said Andrea Wallace, manager for wild animal welfare with the B.C. SPCA.
The reminder comes after Global News received emails saying people have been spotted capturing the reptiles from Munson Pond in Kelowna.
Signs around the pond say the body of water is home to painted turtles, which are a protected species under the B.C. Wildlife Act.
“Painted turtles are a species of special concern,” said Wallace. “They have been impacted by wetland loss as well as habitat alteration from human activities and the Wildlife Act protects them from killing and or collection.”
Wallace said the turtles are native to the area and known as the Rocky Mountain population.
She added they should always be left alone and was surprised to hear they were being netted and collected out of the Kelowna pond.
“It’s a bit surprising,” Wallace said. “I guess people collect hurtles for different reasons but it is illegal and any known or suspected violation of that should definitely be reported.”
A City of Kelowna spokesperson said they were not aware and had no knowledge of the turtles being captured.
The BC Conservation Officer Service is investigating.
Anyone who witnesses the turtles being collected should call the RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) hotline at 1-877-952-7277.