Snapper trappers

? Family project removes 29 snapping turtles from city ponds in 3 weeks.

In the past three weeks, the Ratzlaff family crew have removed 29 snapping turtles from the Memorial Park and Adobe House ponds. Pictured (from left) are: Brekyn Ratzlaff, Kingzley Ratzlaff, Dayton Foster, Zavior Ratzlaff, Micah Ratzlaff, Glenn Ratzlaff, Jetta Ratzlaff. Not pictured: Andrew Thomas. Janae Rempel / Free Press

The two small city ponds in Hillsboro are home to fewer snapping turtles these days, thanks to the initiative of a local family.

Over a three-week span, Glenn Ratzlaff, his son Micah Ratzlaff, and a handful of family and friends caught and removed 29 snapping turtles from the Adobe House Pond and Memorial Park Pond for safety and fishing purposes.

The ponds contain perch, bluegill and bullheads, the elder Ratzlaff said, but the abundance of snapping turtles was taking a toll.

?We noticed a ton of turtles in here, and they were snapping turtles, so for two reasons, we decided we would try to get them out,? Glenn said. ?One was because they eat a lot of fish and we want the kids to have better fishing, and the other is that we feel like it?s kind of dangerous to have these big turtles here.

?If a kid would reach down and try to grab a bobber or something and a snapper happened to be there and grab their finger, it could take a finger off or it could pull them in even.?

The Ratzlaffs said they approached the Hills?boro Police Department and the city about removing the snapping turtles. They were met with positive responses, provided they did not shoot the turtles.

?Actually, some of the city officials here were grateful that we were doing it,? Glenn said. ?They said, ?You?re actually doing us a service, getting those turtles out of there. That way, we don?t have to pay for somebody to come and do that.??

Glenn credited Micah with the design for the traps?they used nine?made out of milk jugs with a line and hook attached that were then tied to the bank. The traps were baited with scrap meat donated from Dale?s Super?market.

In all, the crew caught 33 turtles. They returned non-snapping turtles to the ponds, and relocated snapping turtles to a creek in the country.

Micah said the largest snapping turtles they caught weighed about 30 pounds.

?There?s been probably at least five or six that have been 30 pounds,? he said.

There were no major incidents during the project, although there were a few close calls.

?(Micah?s nephew) Day?ton (Foster) claims I?ve been just about bitten a few times, and we?ve about fallen in the water a couple times, but no major incidents,? Glenn said.

Asked why there are so many snapping turtles in the ponds, Glenn hypothesized: ?We think that over the years, people have caught them on the river and brought them into town here as a joke, (thinking) this would be a fun place for the kids to get snappers or whatever.

?They?ve just multiplied over the years, and it?s gotten out of control with the number of snappers. I think there are more in there, but we?ve definitely thinned the ranks.?

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