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Turtle swallows fishing hook in an Okanagan lake, prompts warning from West Kelowna veterinarian

A small turtle was brought into the Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital in West Kelowna on Saturday, and its condition has provoked a warning from one of their doctors.

<who>Photo Credit: Dr. Moshe Oz</who>

Dr. Moshe Oz took care of the amphibious creature after it was brought in from Shannon Lake with a large barbed hook down its throat, and he says it's not the first time its happened and he expects not the last.

"I think it's important for people to try not to [fish] where we have the pond, where we have the turtles, and of course, try to use those fishing hooks without the barb," Oz said.

<who>Photo Credit: Dr. Moshe Oz</who>

"We were lucky to save one but God knows how many don't come to me, to the hospital."

<who>Photo Credit: Dr. Moshe Oz</who>

The turtle, which was named Sunny during its short time at Rose Valley, was under the knife for a couple of hours on Saturday, explained Oz. The procedure had the veterinarian cut into the neck and pull the barbed hook out from the other side before sewing Sunny back up again.

Oz said he was at the hospital until around 6 p.m. fixing up Sunny. Fortunately, the turtle didn't suffer any permanent damage from the incident.

Oz and his son released Sunny back into Shannon Lake on Saturday and filmed his return to the water.

Sunny's injury led Oz to remind fishers to be wary of where they cast their lines when they're fishing in Shannon Lake.

"In Shannon Lake there is a small area that everyone knows is where the turtles are," explained Oz. He wants people to keep their fishing habits away from the area near the dock where the turtles reside, which is near the entrance to Shannon Lake along its south edge.

<who>Photo Credit: Dr. Moshe Oz</who>"I'm sure somebody released it. It cannot just be a fishing hook without someone that knows about it. Try to fish responsible and try not to use the barb when it's not allowed . . . at the end of the day we can't risk turtles. Even though they are small, they are still beautiful creatures."

Oz speculated that barbed hooks were not allowed in the area. While single barbed hooks are not allowed in "any river, stream, creek or slough in BC," they are allowed in certain lakes that do not state those restrictions, though it is recommended fishers use barbless hooks. According to the Region 8 - Okanagan regulations, Shannon Lake does not fall under that restriction.

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