Western Oregon University collaboration involves the public in conserving Oregon’s freshwater turtles

MONMOUTH, OREGON —Western Oregon University in collaboration with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) are proud to announce the launch of a bilingual website and ‘community science’ app to help monitor Oregon’s freshwater turtle populations.

This collaborative project was developed over a period of years, with The Oregon Native Turtle Working Group, the City of Salem, ODFW, and Drs. Luke Cordova and Gareth Hopkins at WOU, along with over twenty Western Oregon University students, and support from the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund.  “This project has afforded WOU Computer Science and Biology students the opportunity to gain real-world experience by working jointly to design and build an app from conception to release for an important cause” explains WOU Computer Scientist Dr. Cordova, who led the development process.

Conservation of freshwater turtles is the concern that drove the development of this project.  “We have two native species of freshwater turtles in Oregon, and both of them are of conservation concern” explains WOU Biologist Dr. Hopkins. “There are also at least two species of invasive turtles in Oregon that we want to keep track of and try to manage, because they are outcompeting our native species. However, we can’t do all this alone. We are asking the public to help us keep track of all freshwater turtles in the state by downloading our newly developed app and recording whenever you see a turtle when you are out and about this spring and summer.”

“ODFW is excited to partner with WOU to launch this new tool to help fill data gaps and learn more about Oregon’s turtles. ODFW and our turtle conservation partners will use the observation data submitted through the website and app to learn more about turtle distribution and abundance. The data will also help us assess changes in turtle populations over time and inform species conservation actions,” says Susan Barnes, ODFW Wildlife Conservation Biologist.

How can you help? The first step is letting us know where turtles have been seen. This is the time of the year when turtles are most likely to be seen basking on logs, crossing roads, or on land laying eggs. Download the free, bilingual Oregon Turtles app from either the iOS (Apple) or Google Play (Android app stores) and submit your sightings either on the app or via the website: www.oregonturtles.org. Find out more information about how you can help Oregon’s freshwater turtle populations here: www.oregonturtles.org


Media contact

Dr. Lucas P. Cordova, Computer Science
Western Oregon University
503-838-9442 | cordoval@wou.edu

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