AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Two Amarillo women found the 88 turtles, started collecting them and called the Wild West Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for help.
“I thought, we’ll there’s another turtle, oh my goodness, there’s another turtle,” said Sharri Fisher, Amarillo resident.
The center found they were all very weak and cold with many already dead.
“We knew that they’re cold-blooded animals, and they were so cold and completely tucked up, not moving. And there were so many of them that’s part of what made it so, kind of shocking,” said Beverly Gattis, Amarillo resident.
The invasive species were in 20-degree weather near the lake barely moving.
When the wildlife rehabilitation center arrived, they wrapped the turtles in heated blankets and placed them in warm vehicles.
After examining the turtles at Canyon Road Animal Hospital, the doctor said they all have septicemia which is a blood disease that could be caused by a bacteria in the water.
“Right now they’re getting fluids and warming up, and then we will get them into troughs once they’re stabilized, with a little bit of water in there, warm water, but right now some of these guys are so weak that if we put them in water, they’re not going to make it, they’re going to drown,” said Stephanie Oravetz, owner and executive director at the Wild West Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
The water from the lake is currently being tested for harmful bacteria and a Texas Park and Wildlife biologist has sent the dead turtles off for further testing to find what caused the blood poisoning.
The cause is unknown until the tests come back later this week.
“So, either there wasn’t enough food, or there was something that was making it difficult for them to live in the water, which is why they, there was this mass evacuation. Or somebody came with a bunch of totes and decided to dump a bunch of turtles that were sick that they maybe they had, and they weren’t caring for correctly. But some of these shells also had algae and things like that on them which makes us believe they still came from the playa,” said Oravetz.
Currently there are 40 turtles alive and they are in troughs with heated lamps getting a shot every day to help them heal.
“Of course, we’re going to be responsible in that. We’re not going to go dump 40 turtles into one pond because we understand that they could push out other species and wreck their habitat,” said Oravetz.
The center will work with landowners that have ponds to relocate the turtles safely.
Keep up with the Wild West Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on Facebook for updates.
You can give back to the center this month as they are raising funds to build three more outdoor enclosures for the over 2,000 animals that come through care, and a large outdoor enclosure for our non-releaseable badgers, Polly and Billie Jean.