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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the alligator snapping turtle as a threatened species.

The alligator snapping turtle is only found in Kentucky and 13 other states. Research has shown that decades of overfishing and harvesting other meat sources have taxed the species, causing them to produce fewer and fewer turtles each year. Despite concerns over this species numbers, Louisiana and Mississippi both continue to allow the turtles to be harvested for meat. The other states have made the practice illegal.

Leopoldo Miranda-Castro, the Service’s Regional Director, said, “The impacts of overharvesting and other human activities, along with the reality that they take up to 21 years to reproduce combined to put the alligator snapping turtle in peril. The Service will continue to work with all the state agencies to gather the necessary science to conserve and manage this iconic species.”

The alligator snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in North America and can weigh up to 249 pounds. They are also one of the most prehistoric-looking turtles with sharp features and dinosaur-like stature.

Many factors affecting the species population are legal and illegal harvesting in the areas where they live. They are sometimes illegally killed or accidentally caught in fishing gear.

It is important that this species be put on the endangered list in order to better protect them and keep their numbers from going down even more.

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