Geriatric terrapins plaguing Stoke Newington’s Clissold Park are to be forced into retirement after claims they are terrorising local wildlife.
The creatures make popular pets but dozens have been released into the park’s ponds by owners who no longer wanted them. Even though they originate from North and South America, the animals are able to survive Britain’s iciest winters.
The cold weather means they cannot breed – but there now so many elderly reptiles that the Environment Agency has decided to stage a terrapin cull, working in partnership with Hackney Council.
The reptiles have been a problem for several years but the agencies claim the round-up is necessary now because there are so many of the ‘voracious predators’ which eat aquatic plants and any animal they catch – including newts, frogs and insects. It is even thought the vicious terrapin may pose a risk to ducklings.
The Environment Agency will not be able to say precisely how reptiles are in the pond until the round-up begins later this month.
Although not generally harmful to people, terrapins can carry salmonella which is transmissible to humans and domestic animals, such as dogs. Handling one carries the risk of food poisoning like symptoms
A team of terrapin rustlers will use floating traps to catch some of the animals later this month. They will be taken to a reptile sanctuary where they will await adoption into a ‘loving new home.’
It is hoped the cull will maintain native species in the ponds and increase the bio-diversity of the ponds and the whole of Clissold Park.
Dan Taylor, spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to release any non-native species into the wild in the UK.
“We ask members of the public considering releasing any unwanted pets into the park that they instead return them to a pet shop or take them to a rescue centre for re-homing
“We haven’t removed any terrapins from the ponds just yet so we are not sure of the sort of numbers but we are confident they can all be rehoused.”