US alligator snapping turtles could be protected

2015-07-02 16:24
File: AP

File: AP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New Orleans - Federal protection may be needed for three amphibian species and seven reptiles, including the hard-biting, spiky-shelled alligator snapping turtle, the US Fish and Wildlife Service says.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said on Tuesday that those species will undergo further study to decide whether they merit classification as endangered or threatened. Among those species the agency says warrant scrutiny are a spotted turtle once found across the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to Florida, and green salamanders, a tree-climbing species that once inhabited 13 Appalachian states.

Also on the list for 12-month study are several species of snakes and lizards and a frog.

"This is an excellent step toward getting these species protection," said Jaclyn Lopez, director of the Florida office of the Centre for Biological Diversity, speaking on Wednesday about the federal decision.

She said species that end up on the Endangered Species Act's threatened or endangered list have an excellent chance of survival.

Commercial hunting

The non-profit environmental group had asked the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2012 to protect 53 species including the slow, hook-beaked alligator snapping turtles, which can reach 200 pounds and have a fleshy fish lure in their mouths. "They are some prehistoric-looking creatures," Lopez said.

Species on the 2012 petition all face pressures that include habitat loss arising from development, farming, damming of rivers and stream impoundment. Tierra Currry, a senior scientist at the centre based in Tucson, Arizona, said it is still awaiting a federal decision on about 26 of the other reptile and amphibian species.

A statement from the Fish and Wildlife Service said another five species, including a crawfish species for which the centre requested protection on another petition, don't require such help.

Alligator snapping turtles once were found from Illinois and Indiana to Florida, Texas and Kansas. Recent surveys found that they've probably been wiped out in Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee, with numbers down as much as 95% over much of their historic range from habitat loss and overharvesting — which until 2004 included taking wild turtles for soup in Louisiana restaurants. Louisiana, the last state to protect the turtles, now forbids any commercial hunting.

Read more on:    us  |  animals  |  endangered species

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.