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Ken Carlsen - Trustee
Copyright © 2003 World Chelonian Trust. All rights reserved
Ken Carlsen’s introduction to reptiles was similar to many. As a child he discovered the tiny red-eared slider hatchlings (Trachemys scripta elegans) sold in a corner of the local Woolworth’s along with the plastic turtle tray, palm tree and dried ant eggs. He was much older before he knew they grew larger than 3 inches and could live longer than a few months. His interest in reptiles and amphibians grew when his parents built a home on the banks of the Snake River in southeastern Idaho. His understanding mother had two rules: he could keep the multitude of garter snakes, leopard and bull frogs for two weeks maximum before letting them go and he had to ask her first before showing the critters to her friends. That rule was made after one of her friends made a screaming retreat backwards out of the garage and into her car. When Ken was barely a teenager the Carlsen family moved to Boise and there Ken saw a ‘huge’ turtle at a local pet store. It was an ornate box turtle (Terrapene ornata ornata). Torti came home and managed to stay alive for six years despite the lack of proper husbandry knowledge.
During and after high school Ken worked in roller skating rinks for 14 years and pursued an amateur skating career skating figures, freestyle and dance competitions along with much recreational snow and water skiing. He moved from Boise to Sun Valley, Idaho then to Salt Lake City, Utah and Greeley, Colorado pursuing the sport and various majors in college. During this time he married a very supportive wife, had a son, and eventually acquired accounting and finance degrees with the intention of owning a roller rink and coaching an artistic club. After injuries forced him to quit skating, and the birth of the second of three children, it became apparent a career change was necessary and he became a CPA. During this time he became enamored with his step mother-in-law’s three desert tortoises and one Texas tortoise (Gopherus agassizii and Gopherus berlandieri). One day an ornate box turtle wandered into his Colorado back yard infested with bot fly maggots and this animal became the first rehabilitation. After the family returned to Boise, Idaho there was soon a group numbering 8 animals. Still having no real knowledge of husbandry and quarantine issues, he introduced a 9th turtle that died the next day. Within a year all the animals had become sick and died despite veterinary treatment. After that event the family decided they wanted to keep turtles but first needed to know why the turtles died and exactly what their care should be. Unfortunately there was no public internet at the time and all the library books were decades old. Through his step mother-in-law he came in contact with members of the California Turtle and Tortoise Club and, through letter writing, phone calls and The Tortuga Gazette, Ken started learning better husbandry techniques. Since then his thirst for knowledge has never diminished. Over the years he has seen species-specific husbandry techniques improve immensely and are now quickly disseminated over the internet and through reliable publications.
Today Ken is serving a second term on the board of the Idaho Herpetological Society where he has been treasurer, newsletter editor, membership chairman, member at large and a perennial member of the adoption committee. He teaches the chelonian portion of a 2-day herpetological workshop 5-6 times a year through a joint effort of Reptile Conservation Resources and Boise State University, which includes natural history and husbandry instruction to interested people including teachers from grade school through university biology teachers, students, US and Idaho wildlife biologists. He also conducts programs for local grade schools and at his facilities in Boise, Idaho. For educational purposes, and to add to his own knowledge base, he maintains over 20 species of chelonia including at least one species representing every inhabited continent. He has species ranging in size and husbandry needs from Clemmys guttata to Geochelone sulcata. He is also heavily involved in chelonian rehabilitation, adoption and husbandry issues working with local organizations including Animals in Distress, the Idaho Humane Society, the MK Nature Center, Zoo Boise and Turtle Homes. A new and budding interest is chelonian paleontology and Ken has recently been on successful digs at the Hagerman Fossil beds in Idaho searching for Clemmys owyheensis and in the eastern Wyoming badlands searching for Stylemys nebrascensis.
After working in public accounting for 2 years and for the Idaho Power Company for 13 years, Ken now publishes a quarterly market statistics report for the Manufactured Home Industry in seven western states which allows him to work from home and more efficiently take care of his charges.
Ken greatly supports the mission of the World Chelonian Trust and has now joined the board of trustees. He hopes his organizational skills; business and chelonian knowledge will help further the worthy goals of this organization. Ken currently serves as the WCT Treasurer.
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