(UPI) -- An angler at Oregon's Prineville Reservoir captured an alligator snapping turtle on Friday. Because the species are native to the southeastern U.S. and invasive to the Oregon ecosystem, authorities immediately euthanized the animal.
“We euthanized it as soon as we got it back to the office,” district biologist Greg Jackle told the Statesman Journal. “It’s obviously a very large turtle that was not something that we’ve ever seen over here before.”
It's the first time a member of the species -- characterized by its aggressive bite and thick, ridged shell -- was found in eastern Oregon, according to KGW.
“People get these turtles when they are small and release them when they get too big and aggressive to keep as pets,” said Simon Wray, a conservation biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “It’s a poor choice for a pet and the environment.”
“I’d hate to see these turtles get established in Oregon," said Rick Boatner, the department's invasive species coordinator. "We already have problems in the Willamette Valley with common snapping turtles.”