2022 Turtle Survey Results

Where Did the Red-Eared Sliders Go?

By Justin DeMerchant, Lara Phillips and April Blumberg

Invasive Species Council of British Columbia's Salmon Arm Action Team (2022)


Red-eared Slider Turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans) are an invasive species in the southern regions of British Columbia. Kept as pets in BC since the 1960s, Red-eared Sliders are often released into the wild or escape from captivity. In the wild, they compete with indigenous Western Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta bellii) and can spread diseases to them. Part of the workplan for the Salmon Arm Action Team last season was to survey wetlands around the city of Salmon Arm for Red-eared Sliders. Field surveys were conducted from May 24th to October 19th, 2022. The turtles were photographed and the species of each specimen was determined: at least 296 Western Painted Turtles were observed and no Red-eared Sliders were reported.


Western Painted Turtles from Salmon Arm, BC on September 28, 2022 at 03:41 PM · iNaturalist


As part of a previous study, two Red-eared Sliders - one male and one female - were photographed at McGuire Lake in Salmon Arm in 2015 and again in 2016. During our field surveys, we tried our best to find them or any new specimens which may have been introduced or hatched there since that time. Nearby wetlands were also surveyed, including the ponds and marshes along Turner Creek and Shuswap Lake. A total of 168 surveys were conducted at 12 sites. While Red-eared Sliders appeared to be absent from these sites during our field surveys, it is possible they were present but remained undetected.


Red-eared Slider Turtles from Salmon Arm, BC on September 12, 2015 at 06:00 PM · iNaturalist


Salmon Arm is located in the South Interior of BC, along the south end of Shuswap Lake, at the northwest tip of the Okanagan Valley. The climate in the North Okanagan is cooler and more humid than the southern and central parts of the valley where Red-eared Sliders are more common. The South Okanagan is one of the hottest and most arid regions in Canada. However, Red-eared Sliders are native to much warmer regions in the Southeast United States, Mexico, Central America and Brazil. Although they often tolerate living in climates that are not ideal for them, they are not well-adapted to the cold Okanagan winters. It is possible that the Red-eared Sliders previously reported in Salmon Arm did not survive or they may have moved away in search of better habitat. If there are any Red-eared Sliders currently living in the wild in Salmon Arm, their numbers are likely very low.




If you have a pet turtle that you can no longer care for, please practice responsible pet ownership and Don’t Let it Loose! (bcinvasives.ca)


To view more observations from the 2022 ISCBC Salmon Arm Action Team, please visit:
ISCBC Salmon Arm Action Team · iNaturalist (inaturalist.org)


To read another article by the 2022 ISCBC Salmon Arm Action Team, please visit:
Invasive Burdock troubles native toads - Invasive Species Council of British Columbia (bcinvasives.ca)


This project was done in collaboration with the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia and the Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society. Thanks to the StrongerBC funding from the Province of British Columbia, ISCBC was able to provide transferrable skills to 200 people across BC, who supported us in on-the-ground management of invasive species and increasing public awareness.


* Published April 25, 2023: Last edited May 1, 2023