One member of the red-eared slider turtle species has been spotted in Kien Giang Province, after Mekong Delta governments have made several efforts to stop the foreign invasive reptile from spreading.
A farmer in U Minh Thuong (Upper U Minh) forest area found the turtle, weighing around one kilogram, caught in his net. Experts have identified it as the red-eared slider, local media said Sunday.
Local authorities said there must be many of them in other places in the province that have not been discovered, coming in from nearby provinces or released by local residents who bought them and found them harmful.
The red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) is native to North America and was included in the list of the world's 100 worst invasive species by the Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) - a global network of scientific and policy experts on invasive species. It is said that the species is likely to invade the habitat of local turtles and that they can spread typhoid.
Can Tho Seafood Import and Export Company (Caseamex) in April imported nearly 26,400 sliders from the US company Oakland Ninja and sent them to Vinh Long to be bred for meat.
The authorities warned the company about the harm they could cause, but it failed to return or destroy the creatures.
The Kien Giang government has asked its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to watch out for more sliders and take strict measures to control them from spreading.
The department plans to send officials to check retailers of ornamental sea creatures in the area and inform local residents of the danger of red-eared sliders so they would hand over any turtles they might have.
Vietnamese conservation experts have complained that the country lacks legal backing and scientific wherewithal to deal with invasive species from overseas.
Several invasives have already become established in Vietnam, making the local ecosystem less hospitable to native species.