SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – Turtles that aren’t native to the area are turning up in the Connecticut River. 22News has received pictures of the spiny softshell turtle, spotted here western Massachusetts.
The spiny softshell is native to the American southeast and the Mississippi River, which leads to the Great Lake states and Lake Champlain.
Dr. Tom French of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife told 22News that they were discovered in our area about 10 years ago, but the population has since increased.
Dr. French said that the turtles probably started populating in Holyoke, and have since moved south towards Springfield and the Westfield River.
Chicopee resident Zachary Bryson told 22News, “I’ve seen multiple of them in here actually, a little bit further up river, more towards the dam actually.”
Dr. French said there isn’t strong evidence that the spiny softshells have greatly impacted the ecosystem, being similar to snapping turtles. He added that the turtle the DFW are worried about is the red-eared slider, which has been associated with salmonella outbreaks and are competitive with native turtles.