The Alligator Snapping Turtle recommended to become threatened species

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting comments and hosting a virtual public meeting

Picture of Alligator Snapping Turtle (Bradley O'Hanlon, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

HOUSTON – The alligator snapping turtle is now proposed to be listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act.

This follows a review of the best available science that points out decades of overharvesting for meat consumption (both domestic and international), recreational and illegal harvest/collection, nest predation and fishing activities are causing severe negative impacts.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is conducting ongoing conservation measures on behalf of the alligator snapping turtle which include captive rearing and release and habitat restoration and improvement, according to a news release. The Service stated they will be using flexibility allowed through the Endangered Species Act to tailor and take precautions for the conservation of the species.

Alligator snapping turtles get their name from large, powerful jaws and shells that can resemble an alligator. Adult males can weigh up to 249 pounds, while females weigh in at about 50 pounds. Located in 14 different states across the Southeast, Midwest and Southwest, the alligator snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in North America.

“These magnificent reptiles are sometimes called the dinosaurs of the turtle world because they look very prehistoric,” said Leopoldo Miranda-Castro, the Service’s Regional Director for the South Atlantic-Gulf and Mississippi-Basin regions said in the news release.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting comments received or postmarked on or before January 10, 2022. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. In the Search box, enter FWS–R4–ES–2021–0115, which is the docket number for this rulemaking.

The Service has scheduled a virtual public meeting and hearing on December 7, 2021 from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. CT (7:00 – 9:30 p.m. ET) via the Zoom online video platform and via teleconference. This virtual public meeting and hearing is intended to give the public an opportunity to learn more about the proposed listing of the alligator snapping turtle and an opportunity to comment on the proposal.

Registration is required and can be done online at: https://www.fws.gov/southeast/lafayette/news/