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State Wildlife Grant - T-29-R

Project Overview
Project Title
Population and Status Assessment Strategies Applied to a Management Plan for the Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpentina in North Dakota
Target Species
Common Snapping Turtle
Feb. 2011 -- Dec. 2013
Dennis Scarnecchia, University of Idaho

Project Description

The snapping turtle is a species of conservation priority in North Dakota. It is reported to be distributed statewide, although its overall distribution, local status and population trends are poorly understood. Current regulations in North Dakota allow two turtles per person per year, caught by hook and line only. The species also has potential as a useful biomonitor for contaminants in aquatic systems. Information from various investigations suggests that long-term sustainability of snapping turtles may be less certain for populations in the more northerly portions of their range. There is a need to have a Management Plan for snapping turtles in North Dakota that is based on an understanding of the status of the species and factors affecting adult mortality, reproductive (nesting) success, juvenile survival and recruitment. As a species of great ecological and evolutionary importance but limited direct economic importance, an ongoing status assessment must necessarily be conducted in a cost effective way. This study proposes to begin to develop the necessary information on population demographics and ecological factors affecting the demographics. This study also proposes to develop a long-term approach for assessing the status of turtles that can be incorporated into ongoing NDGF annual sampling for fishes in selected waters statewide. It also proposes to outline a framework Management Plan useful for this species and for other turtle species.