Louisiana -(Ammoland.com)- The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) today released juvenile Alligator Snapping Turtles into the Calcasieu River Basin as part of a reintroduction program for this species.
The release was made from Sam Houston Jones State Park north of Lake Charles.
The Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) has experienced significant population declines throughout its range. It is a Species of Conservation Concern in the state of Louisiana, and is listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in the Louisiana State Wildlife Action Plan: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/wildlife-action-plan .
A determination of whether or not to list the Alligator Snapping Turtle under the Endangered Species Act is scheduled for 2017 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). LDWF has begun to address conservation issues affecting this species in an effort to reduce the need for federal listing. Commercial harvest of the Alligator Snapping Turtle has been banned since 2004 in Louisiana, although recreational take is still allowed. It appears that the greatest threat to alligator snapping turtle populations in the state is the lack of juvenile recruitment.
Since 2012, LDWF has operated a head start program for Alligator Snapping Turtles at the Monroe hatchery facility. The purpose of this program is to ensure a reliable source of turtles for release to supplement populations in the wild. By head starting these animals in captivity, survival rates should increase significantly as the juvenile animals will be too large for many potential predators.
For additional information on Alligator Snapping Turtles, visit this link: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/fact_sheet_animal/32234-Macrochelys%20temminckii/macrochelys_temminckii.pdf .