Status and Distribution of Alligator Snapping Turtles in Arkansas

The alligator snapping turtle (Macroclemys temminckii) occurs throughout most of the southeastern United States, but concern exists regarding possible decline in populations throughout the range of the species. Little is known about the alligator snapping turtle in Arkansas. The species was previously documented from only 20 counties in the state. We sampled 1,905 net nights with baited hoop nets and captured 445 alligator snapping turtles in 56 counties. Captures in 41 counties were new records. We failed to capture an alligator snapping turtle in 5 counties where the species was previously reported. The alligator snapping turtles that we captured averaged 338 mm in carapace length. Catch rates were higher in counties that were previously open to commercial turtling than in counties not previously open to commercial harvest. There was no difference in average size of turtles between counties with and without a history of commercial harvest.

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