Turtle farmer David Driver tells sheriff's officials he suspects vandals might be to blame for tearing down fences around his turtle ponds in Summerville.
Authorities say that allowed the turtles - including snappers, Eastern paints and yellow-bellied sliders - to leave the farm and make a beeline to nearby ponds and creeks.
Driver tells The Chattanooga Times Free Press that about 1,600 of the 2,200 turtles escaped. He says his business involves selling some turtles to pet-growing operations and others to China.
Sheriff's officials are continuing to search for the turtles.
Summerville, known more as the home of folk artist Howard Finster than it is for turtles, is about 90 miles northwest of Atlanta.