By FactsWow Team
Posted on: 24 Jun, 2022
A giant alligator snapping turtle, estimated to be around 200 pounds, has been caught by a fisherman on a trip to Lake Cherokee in East Texas.
The fisherman, Justin Broomhall, who landed this beast, did not realize at first that it was a protected species in Texas and subsequently released it back into the lake.
Texas game warden for Rusk County, Kirk Clendening, said, 'It is considered a threatened species in Texas. Since it is protected, you can't take or possess them.'
According to a Facebook post by family friend Kristina Ritter, two officials came out to talk to them about their catch. She said they could not find out how heavy the turtle was as they didn't have a way to weigh it at the time.
The alligator snapping turtles are native to freshwater lakes and rivers in the southeast U.S. Males are much larger than females.
Alligator snapping turtles can grow to up to 220 lbs but generally reach between 155 and 175 lbs. Their strong jaws have a bite force of 1000 lbs, more than enough to cut off a human finger.
According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, an estimated population of 360,000 exists across 12 states currently, but without protection, their numbers could fall to a mere 5% of that in 30 to 50 years.
Populations of alligator snapping turtles are declining, primarily due to habitat degradation and overhunting for sport and food.
They are a protected species in all states found, but scientists have been pushing for the turtles to be officially classified as threatened.
In 2021 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect the alligator snapping turtle under the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species. This proposal is still pending.
After photographing some photos with the beast, Broomhall ensured that the turtle was free of all hooks and fishing gear before letting it swim.
'I've seen a bunch of people leave hooks and rope in the water and see fish, snakes drown from them.'
'On TikTok and Facebook, everybody was saying it was photoshopped. I'm telling you God honest truth it was the biggest turtle I'd ever seen.'
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