Nuisance Species

Nuisance Species

Turtles

Turtles usually are not a biological problem in farm ponds, but they might sometimes compete with fish for food items such as crawfish, insects, or other small food items. They can, though, create a nuisance to anglers when they are caught on hooks and must be removed, when they take baits intended for fish on trot lines, or when they eat fish on stringers left in the water. Turtles also become a problem in ponds where fish are being fed, because turtles quickly learn that fish food tastes good and represents an easy and free meal.

However, turtles can be beneficial. Their greatest service is as scavengers to eat dead fish and other animals or to eliminate diseased or weakened fish. Except for snapping varieties, turtles do not capture many live fish and should not be considered a problem in this regard.

Before pursuing any type of control method, consider whether or not turtles are a genuine problem in your pond. Unless numbers are high and the interference with other pond uses is severe, it is probably best to leave the turtles alone. However, if you have significant problems, you may need to consider removing some turtles.

Shooting turtles as they bask in the sun or as they swim in the water is an old practice you should never use. Shooting into or across water is dangerous! Shooting also creates the possibility of killing a protected species, since identification from a distance is impossible. You can’t use repellents or toxicants, so trapping is the only choice.

Trapping can effectively reduce local populations. The best seasons for trapping are spring, summer, and early fall. Most turtles are inactive through the winter and feed very little, which makes baited traps ineffective during that time.

Although you can trap snappers and soft-shelled turtles using underwater baited traps, you usually don’t have to remove these species from a farm pond. The more aggravating species are the “baskers,” which often crowd together in large numbers on stumps, logs, or other structures above the water surface. By taking advantage of this, you can trap these species with a trap-box in the area turtles normally use. This trap has boards leading up from the water, with pivoting “balance boards.” When the turtles crawl onto these platforms, they weigh down the boards, dropping the turtles into the collection box.

Check traps daily and remove all turtles, then take the turtles to another location at least several miles away and release them into their natural habitat. However, understand that your release site is important, as you want the turtles to survive and you do not want to create a problem for someone else. Be careful not to violate state laws when transporting turtles, and do not carry them across state lines, since other states have different laws.

If you do not plan to visit the trap for a long while, flip it over on its side so turtles are not captured and left in the trap.

Other Problem Animals

Many animal species can take up residence on small lakes and ponds. Beavers, muskrats, nutria, alligators, and geese can be a nuisance or even cause damage.

Burrowing and damming activities can cause dam failure or flood adjacent landowners. Tree cutting and flooding can cause loss of valuable timber. Beaver dens or huts may be great places to fish, but it is at the landowner’s expense. Fish attractors can give the same success with no sacrifices.

Otters can quietly steal your fish at night. A family of otters, although cute, can virtually eliminate catchable-size fish in a small pond. The best control is immediate action at the first sign of these animals living in your lake. For species such as nutria, beavers, and muskrat, trapping is the most effective control. There are professional trappers that can assist. If an alligator is residing in your lake, contact your state management agency as this species is protected.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

News

Large, silver fish swim in blue water.
Filed Under: Fisheries, Fish Management, Marine Resources September 1, 2021

Fisheries experts at Mississippi State University and other research institutions are conducting an $11.7 million study of the greater amberjack, an important recreational and commercial species in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico that is threatened by overfishing.

Woman in wading pants collects a water sample in a creek.
Filed Under: Healthy Soils and Water, Pond and Lake Water Quality, Pond and Lake Topics, Pond and Lake Management Resources August 19, 2021

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Recreation in and around water is a great way to get outside in the warmer months and still stay cool. Whether you enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, kayaking, wildlife watching, exploring creeks and streams, or paddling coastal bays and estuaries, Mississippi’s waterways have a lot to offer.

Girl in a blue T-shirt and baseball cap holding a small fish.
Filed Under: Environment, Fish Management June 18, 2021

Grandpa cast the jig and cork to the center of the pond and handed it to Lucy. “Now, start reeling in slowly,” he said.

She did as Grandpa instructed. On the third crank of the reel, the float disappeared several inches below the water surface, and Grandpa shouted, “She’s got it; reel it in!”

That day, Lucy perfected her casting technique and caught nearly a dozen small bass and several large bluegill.

Graphic showing red snapper count in the Gulf of Mexico.
Filed Under: Fisheries, Fish Management April 14, 2021

BILOXI, Miss. -- The results of the Great Red Snapper Count are in!

In 2017, a team of fisheries experts began a two-year task of estimating the population size of red snapper in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico through this unprecedented, federally funded $12 million project. Scientists from several Southeastern universities and institutes, including Mississippi State University, used a variety of methods across the Gulf to accomplish this ambitious goal.

Bright green burweed in a patch of dead grass.
Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Turfgrass and Lawn Management, Weed Control for Lawn and Garden, Weed Control January 14, 2021

Having “stickers” in your yard can be quite the nuisance. Stumbling upon a patch of stickers while walking barefoot is a painful experience. Plus it’s painful for your four-legged family members! Formally known as lawn burweed, these winter annuals are no fun to deal with.  

Select Your County Office

Your Extension Experts

Portrait of Dr. Wes Neal
Extension/Research Professor
Fisheries Extension