MONROE, La (07/01/19)–Louisiana is close to losing one of its natural inhabitants for good. The Alligator Snapping Turtle has been a species of Greatest Conservation Need in Louisiana since 2012. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is trying to overtake those odds before it’s too late.
Within the next year, the US Fish and Wildlife Service will make a decision on if the Alligator Snapping Turtle should be listed under the Endangered Species Act.
“They aren’t quite listing them as threatened or endangered, but there are people who have noticed that their populations are declining,” said Joe Clawson, Director of Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo.
The LDWF’s Restoration Program harvest the eggs and let the babies mature before releasing them into the wild. This is a safe way to make sure the population will increase in its natural habitat.
“Louisiana is a fabric, and every time you lose something, an animal, a bird or even an insect, it’s like pulling a thread out of that fabric,” said Clawson.
A female alligator snapping turtle can lay up to 40 eggs, however 80 percent will die because of predators. The remaining babies still have a high death rate, but predators aren’t the reason.
Something that’s a threat in a lot of their places is a prop of a boat or the car,” said Clawson.
Luckily, the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo has been a helping hand in saving those turtles who have been hurt.
“We’ll still be able to have them and display them. We’re actually part of the solution, ” said Clawson.
The restoration program and the zoo can’t do this alone, they need the love from the community.
“What people have to do is people have to care, they have to decide that this animal’s worth keeping in the state of Louisiana,” said Clawson.
In addition, slow down while driving a boat or a car in areas they live. This not only saves just one snapping turtle, but ultimately the whole species.
“It’s apart of our Eco-system, and its something that’s there and it ought to stay there,” said Clawson.
Many have faith in this program as it shows it works.
Alligators were almost extinct in the state of Louisiana in the 1960’s, however this exact tactic is what saved and re-populated them.