Large Alligator Snapping Turtle Hooked, Returned to Lake Cherokee by Texas Man



An enormous alligator snapping turtle, estimated to weigh 200 pounds, was reeled in by a fisherman on a fishing trip to Lake Cherokee in East Texas.

The fisherman who caught the behemoth turtle, Justin Broomhall, initially had no idea that it was a protected species in Texas, so he later released it back into the lake.

The alligator snapping turtle is regarded as a threatened species in Texas, according to Kirk Clendening, a game warden for Rusk County in Texas. The turtle cannot be taken or owned because it is a protected species.

Two wardens from Rusk County came out to talk to them about their catch, but they were unable to determine the turtle’s weight because they lacked a scale at the time, according to a Facebook post by a family friend named Kristina Ritter.

Alligator Snapping Turtles

In the southeast of the United States, freshwater lakes and rivers are home to alligator snapping turtles. Males of the turtle species have larger body sizes than females. The turtle species typically weigh around 155 to 175 pounds but can grow to as heavy as 220 pounds. A human finger could easily be severed from their powerful jaws’ 1000 lb. bite force.

The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that there are currently 360,000 of them spread across 12 states; however, without protection, that number could drop to just 5% of that in 30 to 50 years.

Alligator snapping turtle populations are currently in decline, primarily as a result of habitat degradation and overharvesting for sport and food. In every state where they are found, they are a protected species, but scientists have pushed for the turtles to be formally listed as threatened.

The nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity triumphed in a court case against the United States in 2016. Fish and Wildlife Service to decide by 2020 whether to list the alligator snapping turtle as an endangered species under the ESA.

Read also: Predicting Disaster? Sea Turtle Swam For 47 Days After Sensing Devastating Volcanic Outburst 

Protected to Threatened

In late 2021, a proposal to protect the alligator snapping turtle under the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species was submitted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The said proposal is still being processed.

Alligator snappers are among the most ferocious and wild creatures in the Southeast, but overfishing and habitat destruction have endangered them, according to Elise Bennett, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, who made this statement in November 2021. She went on to say that the Endangered Species Act and its life-saving protections will give these freshwater giants a real chance at survival and recovery.

Humane Acts

Broomhall made sure the turtle was free of all hooks and fishing equipment before letting it swim away after taking a few pictures with the beast. Broomhall has witnessed several individuals drop hooks and rope into the water, where fish and even snakes have perished as a result.

Broomhall insists that the turtle in her photo was the largest one she has ever seen, despite Facebook and TikTok users alleging otherwise, Newsweek reports.

Related article: People Making ‘Turtle Soup’ Endanger Population of Alligator Snapping Turtle 


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