Researchers have reported the first Illinois sighting in 30 years of a wild alligator snapping turtle, according to the Southern Illinoisan.
The turtle was found in a creek in Union County, and researchers hope the discovery is a sign of hope for the state-endangered species, the Southern Illinoisan reported. It could also be the last of its species to survive in Illinois without human intervention.
The find was reported in the journal Southeastern Naturalist in September. It’s the first record of the turtle in Illinois since 1984, and the second in the past 50 years.
The turtle was found in October 2014 by Illinois Natural History Survey herpetologist Chris Phillips, the Southern Illinoisan reported. The turtle was 22 pounds, 15 inches long and at least 18 years old.
Union County is one of the two counties in Illinois that offer the habitat needed for these turtles. The turtle is a threatened species in the U.S.