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Angling duo net a monster turtle

THE Monster of Earlswood Lakes - a huge turtle with a savage bite - has been caught at last.

THE Monster of Earlswood Lakes - a huge turtle with a savage bite - has been caught at last.

The alligator snapping turtle was caught by local anglers Steve Bellion and Jason Weston using a net on Friday July 2 and this time it did not manage to escape back into the water at the popular fishery.

The duo immediately contacted British Waterways who arranged for its transportation to West Midlands Safari Park.

The formidable 40lb-plus beast, which will attack humans and could easily rip off a person’s fingers, has been caught a number of times previously but anglers have been unable to restrain it and it has escaped back into Engine Pool.

Now the creature, which is native to the southern United States and is normally found in the Mississippi River, is set to have a new home at West Midlands Safari Park.

Stephen Hardy, from British Waterways, which owns Earlswood Lakes confirmed the rogue turtle had at last been caught.

He said: “It has been taken to the West Midlands Safari Park and they are in the process of carrying out some tests to make sure it is not infected.

“If they come back as clear it will stay at the safari park.”

Steve Bellion and Jason Weston were unable to speak to the Solihull News this week but Jason’s wife Julie confirmed the unusual catch and added: “He said it was a big old boy.”

The turtle was caught in September 2008 by Walsall angler Drew Hammonds and was also hooked by a Wythall angler in October 2007 when it forced its way back into the water.

Mr Hammonds, aged 37, described his unusual catch as the size of a dustbin lid and looking like a crocodile. “It was ripping through the net with its jaws and was snapping at us,” he said. “I struggled to get the hook out because it was snapping so much. It was a bit shocking.”

The alligator snapping turtle can grow to more than 60lb in weight and live for over 100 years.

Suzanne Atkey from British Waterways said the Earlswood beast was two-feet long and believed to be around 80 years old, adding: “We are glad to have it out of there as it was causing problems for the local wildlife.”

Speaking in 2008 Chris Charles, a reptile keeper at West Midlands Safari Park who lives in Shirley, said the turtle had probably been kept by someone as a pet and had been dumped in the lake when it started to grow much bigger.

“Judging by the reports of its size, the turtle could have been in the lake for many years,” he said, adding that he wanted to try and catch it and bring it to the safari park.



Cathrina Hulse
Multimedia Journalist
Annette Belcher
Multimedia Journalist
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