Townsville turtle deaths spark investigation VICTORIA NUGENT, Townsville Bulletin July 12, 2017 7:00pm Kreffts Turtles basking on a tree in the Ross River, Townsville THE Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is investigating a group of freshwater turtles found tangled up in a net in the Ross River. A Department of Environment and Heritage Protection spokeswoman said seventeen freshwater turtles were found deceased in a trap at 12.40pm on Monday, below the Weir State High School footbridge in the Ross River. “They were Krefft’s turtles, and all were adult males,” she said. “Wildlife officers are investigating the matter, and have also been working with the RSPCA. “EHP has also notified the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries about the misuse of fishing gear.” Native freshwater turtles are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, with the maximum penalty for killing the turtles 1000 penalty units ($126,150), or one year’s jail. Townsville City Council’s general manager of environmental services Greg Bruce said the council responded to a call from a member of the public reporting dead freshwater turtles caught up in a net in the river. “Council collected 30 turtles and reported the incident to State Fisheries who are investigating,” he said. Anyone with more information about this incident is urged to contact EHP on 1300 130 372.