A fisherman on a trip to Lake Cherokee in East Texas caught a massive turtle snatching at an alligator, which weighs an estimated 200 pounds.
Justin Broomhall, the fisherman who landed the beast, first did not realize that it was a protected species in Texas, and then released it back into the lake.
Kirk Clendening, a Texas warden from Rusk County, told CBS19: “It is considered an endangered species in Texas. Because it is protected, you cannot marry or own it.”
According to a Facebook post, Kristina Ritter’s family friend and two guards from the Russia district came to talk to them about their catch. According to her, they could not find out how heavy the turtle was, because they had no way to consider it at that time.
Alligator turtles come from freshwater lakes and rivers in the southeastern United States. Males are much larger than females. They can grow up to 220 pounds, but usually reach 155 to 175 pounds. Their strong jaws have a bite force of 1,000 pounds, which is more than enough to cut off a human finger.
An estimated population of 360,000 currently exists in 12 states, but without protection, their number could drop to just 5 percent of that in 30 to 50 years, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Alligator turtle populations are now declining, mostly due to habitat degradation and overfishing for sports and food. They are a protected species in every state where they occur, but scientists have pushed for turtles to be officially classified as endangered.
In 2016, the nonprofit Center for Biodiversity won a legal battle against the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which required them to determine by 2020 whether the alligator tortoise would receive protection under the Endangered Species Act. In late 2021, the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed protecting a turtle snatching under the Endangered Species Act as an endangered species. This proposal is still awaiting approval.
“Alligator snappers are some of the wildest and wildest creatures in the Southeast, but overexploitation and destruction of the natural environment threaten their lives,” said Elise Bennett, a biodiversity center lawyer in a November 2021 press release. recovery with the help of the Endangered Species Act and its rescue protection. “
After taking several photos of the animal, Broomhall made sure the turtle was free of all hooks and fishing gear before letting it float freely.
“I’ve seen a lot of people leave hooks and ropes in the water and I’ve seen fish and snakes drown out of them,” Broomhall told CBS19.
“Everyone on TikTok and Facebook said it was photographed. I’m telling you, God, the honest truth was that it was the biggest turtle I’ve ever seen.”
Newsweek contacted fiancée Justin Broomhall and Kristina Ritter.