Alligator Snapping Turtle Found At Center Hill Lake

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

When the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers received photos of what they thought was an alligator snapping turtle on Center Hill Lake, they quickly called Putnam County wildlife officer, Mike Beaty. Beaty, like all TWRA officers, holds a degree in wildlife and fisheries management and was quick to use his knowledge. He knew this was a species of greatest conservation need (GCN) in Tennessee and he quickly met the Corp and contacted his colleague TWRA, Region 3 wildlife diversity biologist, Chris Simpson.

Alligator snapping turtles are found primarily west of the Tennessee River in West Tennessee, with a few occurrences that stretch along the Cumberland River system. Populations declined because of over-harvesting for consumption prior to protection. TWRA, Region 1 has been working with this species since the 1990’s with restorative efforts continuing today.  The most recent sighting outside its current range occurred in Davidson County in 2016.          

Alligator snapping turtles prefer slow moving waters with soft substrate. These turtles are not as long lived as other large turtles such as ocean turtles. Males live an average of 26 years and females live an average of 23 years (Niemiller, Reynolds, Miller, 2013). The alligator snapping turtle is the largest turtle in Tennessee with an average carapace length of 20-24 inches.

Wildlife diversity biologist, Chris Simpson gathered data from the Center Hill Lake alligator snapping turtle, which included a carapace measurement of 19 and a half inches and an overall length of 48 inches. The turtle was fairly decayed and could not be weighed. It is thought to be a male. Genetic material was also collected for further analysis.

How the turtle came to be at Center Hill Lake could remain a mystery. Did someone illegally release the turtle and if so when? Center Hill Lake dam was built in 1948. The turtle would not have been in the area prior to the building of the dam. However, this species naturally occurred in the Cumberland River system prior to the building of the dam.  Genetic testing might reveal the waterway of origin.  For now, the mystery will continue. Simpson stated, “Dealing with these situations and cataloging information is truly enjoyable. Any information we can gain on a GCN species is valuable”.

Sightings can be reported by contacting TWRA.

For more information on GCN species, including the alligator snapping turtle visit:http://tnswap.com/. Sightings can be reported by contacting your TWRA regional office.



TVA Celebrates National Public Lands Day With Several Local Events

The Tennessee Valley Authority invites the public to join in celebrating National Public Lands Day. TVA and its partners are hosting several events in the Chattanooga area over the next two weekends aimed at keeping these public lands and lakes clean and beautiful for recreation users in the Tennessee Valley. To learn more about TVA’s National Public Lands Day events, click  ... (click for more)

Celebration Of National Public Lands Day Event Sept. 29 At Cumberland Trail

Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail in Spring City invites the public to join them from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29 to celebrate National Public Lands Day and the 50th Anniversary of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Cumberland Trail will have a snake/insect booth, a creek stomp (weather permitting), a gift shop and will be joined by the Tennessee Wildlife ... (click for more)

Judge Collier Denies New Trial For Ex Pilot Travel Centers President Hazelwood; Did Not File Without 14 Days Of Verdict

Federal Judge Curtis Collier has issued a 48-page order denying a new trial for former Pilot Travel Centers president Mark Hazelwood. He said initial Hazelwood attorney Rusty Hardin of Houston, Tex., did not follow federal rules of filing notice of an appeal within 14 days of the verdict. Judge Collier also denied a request by Brad Henry, the new Hazelwood lawyer, for time ... (click for more)

Fight Breaks Out During Friday Dismissal At Central High School; Joshua Maddox, 18, Is Arrested With 3 Juveniles

Earlier Friday afternoon, during dismissal at Central High School, a fight broke out, at which time the SRO assigned to the campus called for additional deputies to respond to the school to assist.  The fight involved several students. Of those involved, three juvenile students were transported to the Juvenile Detention Center for disorderly conduct. Joshua Maddox, ... (click for more)

Arming Teachers With Guns Will Be Too Dangerous - And Response (4)

Arming teachers with guns in the classroom, as Bill Lee proposes, would be the single most dangerous thing to happen to students in Tennessee history. Students and teachers in close proximity to loaded firearms daily? Across this state, in middle schools alone, there are probably hundreds of student/teacher conflicts a day. What if a student got hold of gun in a struggle with ... (click for more)

The Saturday Funnies

Before we get into this week’s edition of The Saturday Funnies, I want to share a fun chunk of information that we can have a lot of fun with tonight. Our pals at the website timeanddate.com were good enough to pass along the fact today marks the September Equinox. And – get this -- if you play this right, it will be just like the farmer says: “On the field of opportunity, it’s ... (click for more)