Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtles (TFP File)

Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtles Get Long-Awaited Federal Protection

Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtles (TFP File)
Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtles (TFP File)

The prehistoric-looking Suwannee alligator snapping turtle has finally received federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced the official listing as “threatened” on Wednesday, June 26th, 2024.

These massive turtles, found only in the Suwannee River basin of Georgia and Florida, have faced threats for decades. Habitat destruction, accidental capture by fishing gear, and illegal collection for the pet trade have all contributed to their decline.

The “threatened” designation will lead to the development of a conservation plan by the FWS. This plan will outline specific actions needed to protect the turtles and their habitat. It may include restrictions on development in the Suwannee River basin, public education campaigns, and efforts to reduce accidental capture by fishermen.

Read: Florida Man’s Illicit Turtle Smuggling Saga Exposed

“There’s no question turtle trapping is a threat, but so too is habitat destruction,” Elise Bennett, Florida and Caribbean director at the center, said in a prepared statement. “The (Fish and Wildlife) Service could have designated long enough stretches of river as critical habitat in a way that wouldn’t have provided location information while also protecting the turtles’ homes.”

While conservationists are optimistic, challenges remain. Habitat loss due to agriculture and urban development is still a concern. Additionally, the black market demand for these turtles as exotic pets persists.

The Suwannee alligator snapping turtle’s journey to federal protection is a testament to the tireless work of conservation groups and government agencies. Now, the real work of ensuring their future begins.

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