In our watershed, we are concerned with the following protected species.
Alligator Snapping Turtles
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is proposing listing the alligator snapping turtle under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Currently, these turtles are considered threatened by TPWD and, as such, are afforded protection in Texas. Listing under the ESA provides immediate protection, promotes recovery, and generates greater public awareness about the threats and conservation opportunities.
In 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in collaboration with North Texas Municipal Water District, Trinity River Authority, Tarrant Regional Water District, the City of Dallas, and the City of Fort Worth, developed a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) for the Alligator Snapping Turtle in Texas. The CCAA is an agreement between USFWS and property owners that provides a mechanism to implement conservation measures to reduce threats to the candidate species.
More information on the species is needed to manage the alligator snapping turtle’s habitat in Texas effectively. For populations to persist, they require adequate breeding, feeding, sheltering, and survival conditions. Conservation measures that have been implemented for the alligator snapping turtle include head-starting and reintroductions, as well as various efforts to restore and improve habitat. Therefore, we are asking for the public’s help to submit any sightings of the Alligator Snapping Turtle.
Alligator snapping turtles are prehistoric-looking and have even been called the dinosaur of the turtle world and can live for many years and have been known to reach over 100 years of age. You can find more information on their life history at this link.
Alligator snapping turtles are opportunistic predators and foragers. Their diets consist of fish, crayfish, smaller turtles, insects, nutria, snakes, birds, and vegetation. Do not be surprised if you spot an alligator snapping turtle and do not see it again because they stay submerged for up to 50 minutes before they come up for air! Alligator snapping turtles also have an impressive jaw and bite force of 1000 lbs. Do not handle or approach too closely!
The alligator snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in North America. Their primitive appearance is characterized by three rows of spikes on their shell, a large head, and a sharp beak. Alligator snapping turtles have long tails, muscular legs with webbed toes, and long, pointed claws. They are dark brown in coloration and often have algae growth, which aids in their camouflage. Males are much larger than females and weigh between 155 and 175 pounds.For more information download this information sheet.
By far, the most famous protected species in our service area is our family of bald eagles at the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center in Seagoville. Once listed as endangered, the bald eagle is a majestic predatory bird not often seen in our region. The mating pair that lives in our wetlands is usually visible October through July when they are nesting.
The eagles gained widespread attention in 2014 when their 200-pound nest was relocated to move it away from a dangerous high-voltage line. With the help of Oncor, Falcon Steel and the Chapman Group, the eagles now have their own steel tower to call home. Tune into the JBS YouTube channel to keep up with the progress on the Eagle family with the live Eagle nest camera.
Learn more about the eagles on the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center website.