COLUMBIA, La. (AP) — They’re more likely to bite than say thanks, but 14 alligator snapping turtles reared at a fish hatchery are now swimming about in the wild.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said Thursday that Wednesday’s release at Boeuf Wildlife Management Area in Caldwell Parish was part of a head start program to replenish the species.
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.
The 51,100-acre (20,700-hectare) wildlife management area southeast of Columbia includes eight bayous and 26 lakes.