Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Tishomingo NWR Assisting with the Oklahoma Wildlife Action Plan
Southwest Region, May 11, 2007
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Wildlife Biologist Jona Reasor releasing a Alligator Snapping Turtle.
Wildlife Biologist Jona Reasor releasing a Alligator Snapping Turtle. - Photo Credit: n/a
Equipment Operator David Crain watching out for the bite!
Equipment Operator David Crain watching out for the bite! - Photo Credit: n/a


Tishomingo NWR assisting with the Oklahoma Wildlife Action Plan

The Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macroclemys temmincki) is listed by the State of Oklahoma as a Species of Special Concern and has a global ranking in the Natural Heritage Rarity Rankings. The Oklahoma Wildlife Action Plan recognizes the turtles as a species of greatest conservation need based on population status and trend. Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge began working with the State of Oklahoma and Mr. Larry Andrews in 2001 to return the turtles to refuge waters.

The program started after an extensive two week study in 2001 by Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit determined that no Alligator Snapping Turtles were found on the refuge. Tishomingo NWR is within the historic range of the turtles and therefore the State of Oklahoma selected the refuge for restocking efforts.

Mr. Andrews, on a volunteer basis, has released 355 hatchling Alligator Snapping Turtles on Tishomingo NWR from September 2001 to September 2006. His dedication to the turtles is evident as documented by Outdoor Oklahoma in their thirty minute television broadcast on Alligator Snapping Turtles released in early 2007.

A separate release of 260 adult Alligator Snapping Turtles occurred on April 06, 2007 after the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission confiscated the turtles from a commercial breeder. The turtles were held at a fish hatchery in Arkansas where biologist and veterinarians from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Tulsa Zoo, Oklahoma State University, and West Texas A&M University tested the health and genetics of the turtles for compatibility with Oklahoma’s turtles. Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery and the Tulsa Zoo transported the turtles back to Oklahoma. All of the turtles were marked for future identification and several turtles had sonic transmitters attached to their shells for tracking. Refuge staff assisted in releasing the 260 turtles into the wild.

Tishomingo NFH and Oklahoma State University researcher Day Ligon plan to continue research on the turtles by tracking movements via the transmitters over the next two years. Tishomingo NWR will continue to assist all interested parties in the recovery of this important species.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov
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