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Alligator snapping turtle ‘head start’: 14 released to wild

June 28, 2019

COLUMBIA, La. (AP) — Some 14 alligator snapping turtles reared at a fish hatchery are now swimming about in the wild in Louisiana.

Wednesday’s release at Boeuf (BUFF) Wildlife Management Area in Caldwell Parish was part of a head start program to replenish the species, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said in a news release Thursday.

The federal government is scheduled to decide next year whether to declare the turtles endangered or threatened. State biologists are working to reduce the need for such a listing.

Adult alligator snapping turtles have formidable jaws. But most babies get eaten by larger animals. So since 2012, department biologists have raised hundreds of turtles for release when they’re bigger.

Those released Wednesday ranged from 6 inches (15.5 cm) to 12.5 inches (32 cm), and from at least 2 to at least 6 years old, biologist Keri Lejeune of the department’s Wildlife Diversity Program said in an email Friday.

The 51,100-acre (20,700-hectare) wildlife management area southeast of Columbia includes eight bayous and 26 lakes.

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