1st alligator snapping turtle in a long time noticed in Illinois

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CHICAGO — A scientist looking for a younger male alligator snapping turtle that was put in a Southern Illinois creek not less than a yr in the past as a substitute grabbed a 22-pound grownup feminine, elevating hopes for these making an attempt to guard a creature that hadn’t been noticed within the space for 3 a long time.

Illinois Natural History Survey herpetologist Chris Phillips known as his discovering of the turtle, not less than 18 years previous, a “move in the right direction” within the effort to avoid wasting the state-endangered species.

The discovery was chronicled in an article on this month’s Southeastern Naturalist co-authored by Ethan Kessler, a graduate pupil of pure sources and environmental sciences on the University of Illinois.

“It gives us hope that reproduction is happening,” Kessler mentioned.

Still, each Kessler and Phillips aren’t fairly positive what precisely the discover says about these secretive creatures which have been round for tens of millions of years. This explicit turtle that was dwelling in Union County’s Clear Creek, the place scientists have been releasing turtles in Union County’s Clear Creek as a result of no wild alligator turtles had been present in Illinois since 1984.

“Maybe there is a hidden population we don’t know about,” Kessler mentioned, including that it’s extra doubtless that this turtle was simply the final survivor of what was as soon as a much bigger inhabitants of turtles or a hearty touring turtle that someway made its method up the Mississippi River.

However it bought there, earlier than it was discovered by Phillips it discovered not less than one different turtle. The scientists know that as a result of on the day Phillips reached down and grabbed the feminine turtle he thought he was reaching down for a smaller male turtle that has been carrying a radio transmitter ever since scientists launched it into the identical creek not less than a yr in the past.

It was as a result of the water is so murky, Phillips had no method of realizing that he was grabbing the larger turtle and never the smaller one which was so shut that it was finally pulled out of the water in the identical spot.

That leaves each Kessler and Phillips questioning if Phillips was interrupting the form of exercise species wants to extend its numbers.

“He (the smaller turtle) had sidled up to her so maybe they were making plans,” mentioned Phillips.

Sadly — not less than for the scientists — simply what plans the turtles have been making might by no means be identified due to a failure in expertise.

“We put a transmitter (on the larger turtle) but the battery died three months later,” Phillips mentioned. “She’s in there but there is no way we’re going to find her.”

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