Prisoners work to save endangered turtles

by: Kevin McCarty Updated:

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LITTLEROCK, Wash. —

After 17 years in prison, Jamar Glenn credits turtles for giving him a life changing experience.

 Glenn, 32, was convicted of murder in a drug-related shooting in Tacoma in 1997. He said his years behind bars have been rough and often violent. Now Glenn is working with the sustainable in prison project at the minimum security facility at Cedar Creek near Littlerock in Thurston County.

 “It’s just a great opportunity to be able to work with endangered animals," said Glenn.

 Glenn and inmate Timothy Nuss, who is serving time for robbery, help scientists with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife rehabilitate endangered western pond turtles suffering from shell disease.  

The disease causes softening and painful sores on the turtle’s abdominal shells known a plastrons.    

Glenn and Nuss care for the turtles seven days a week feeding them, gently scrubbing them with soap and applying an iodine bath to help fight the disease. The turtles, all females, have been fitted with small transmitters and will be released back into the wild to mate and help increase their numbers in Washington state. Ten turtles at the prison are scheduled for release this week.

 The sustainable in-prison project previously worked with Oregon spider frogs, breeding them and releasing them into areas where their numbers had diminished.

 Glenn said he hopes the real-world skills he’s learned while at Cedar Creek will help him find work when he’s released in less than two years.

 “Hopefully, once I am released, I have a great opportunity to work as a veterinary technician or assistant," Glenn said.