Guide to Understanding and Managing Lakes : Part I (Physical Measurements)
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
Turtles are beneficial scavengers that feed primarily on aquatic plants and dying fish. Turtles are not harmful to fish populations and can actually improve fishing by removing unhealthy fish. Of the 18 species of turtles found in Virginia, only the snapping turtle can become a nuisance by occasionally stealing fish bait or eating ducklings. Turtles seldom cause problems and should not be indiscriminately killed. Snapping turtles can be caught with trot lines, large minnow-type traps, rat traps, or box traps baited with fish heads, fresh meat, or watermelon rind.
Although water snakes do eat some fish, they pose no serious threat to pond fish populations or man. Water snakes are not poisonous! Of the 36 different types of snake found in Virginia, only two species, the northern water snake (Natrix sipedon) and the brown water snake (Natrix taxispilota), are true water snakes. Many people confuse these water snakes with the eastern cottonmouth or water moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus) which is a poisonous, water-dwelling snake. However, the cottonmouth is found only in the extreme corner of southeastern Virginia, near the Dismal Swamp. Since these snakes have never been found farther west than Petersburg, about 90% of the state has no cottonmouths. Water snakes will bite if handled, but are relatively harmless and should not be indiscriminately destroyed. Clearing debris and mowing vegetation at the pond edges reduces hiding places for snakes and will effectively reduce their numbers.