Dr. Oz extracts a fishing hook from a turtle during surgery. (Contributed)

Dr. Oz extracts a fishing hook from a turtle during surgery. (Contributed)

Okanagan vet issues warning to residents after saving turtle from a barbed hook

Residents who fish in ponds near Shannon Lake should avoid using barbed wire hooks

  • Jun. 22, 2020 12:00 a.m.

Rose Valley Veterinarian Dr. Oz is urging residents to be more cautious around ponds in West Kelowna after a recent increase in human-inflicted injuries to turtles.

On Saturday, June 20, Dr. Oz and his colleague Dr. Noa stayed after hours at Rose Valley Vet Hosptial to remove a barbed fishing hook from a turtle’s mouth.

According to Dr. Oz, the surgery was successful but was very serious as the hook narrowly missed the turtle’s eye.

Dr. Oz said it is becoming more common for turtles to be caught on fishing lines and due to the danger that these lines pose, he asks that fishermen use caution when fishing in turtle territory.

“Usually people go to the pond at Shannon Lake and by mistake they catch turtles,” said Oz.

“Last year I needed to perform a surgery where I cut open the neck (of a turtle). The problem is not just the fishing hook but the barb and we have to do a surgery to take it out. It’s not easy.”

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For residents who fish in ponds near Shannon Lake, he said they should try and avoid using barbed wire.

“We are begging our community to remember to avoid barbed hooks when fishing, as many turtles are looking for snacks,” said Oz.

While Dr. Oz was able to save the turtle on June 20, not all are as lucky. According to Oz, several turtles have been killed while crossing the road in the Rose Valley area, including two most recently over the weekend.

One particularly dangerous location is along Westlake Road where turtles use an underground tunnel, built by the City of West Kelowna, to make safe passage across the street. Although, Dr. Oz believes the routes are blocked, forcing the turtles to cross on the road.

“The routes are full of water, so they have to go up onto the road to get across,” said Oz.

“I want to put signs up on (West Lake Road) that reads ‘drive like a turtle’ because the turtles go slow and we don’t see them. So, we just kill them because we don’t know they are there. This is also the season for turtles to nest so all the fertile (turtles) are the ones that need to get across and the ones that we kill.”

If you find a turtle crossing the road, Dr. Oz asks that you stop safely and move the turtle in the direction it is heading off the road.

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