On June 7, 2022, the Living Collections team and ecologist Dan Thompson released 117 head–started Blanding’s turtles into the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. This release was a couple of months earlier than usual due to the emergence of a fungal disease, Emydomyces testavorans. The fungus erodes turtles’ shells, leaving them susceptible to other pathogens.
Emydomyces testavorans was detected in head-started Blanding’s turtles in the Chicagoland region by University of Illinois researchers in late 2021.The origin of the fungus and how it entered the captive head-start facilities is still unknown. Further testing will be conducted to learn more about the fungus and to determine its prevalence in the wild.
The Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, and partners, have been working along with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to test the head-start turtles. After a series of tests, our 2021 hatchlings tested negative for Emydomyces testavorans. Thus, our turtles were cleared to be released as soon as possible!
Stay tuned for more updates.