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See a snapping turtle west of the Divide? Wildlife officials want to know about it

Large Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) basking on a rock - Haliburton, Ontario, Canada
BrianLasenby/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Large Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) basking on a rock - Haliburton, Ontario, Canada

Western Montanans are being asked to report sightings of specific reptiles native to eastern Montana but considered an increasingly harmful invasive species west of the Divide.

State wildlife officials want to get a better idea of where snapping turtles may be living in western Montana.

They’re a native species east of the divide. West of the divide, however, snapping turtles are an invasive species.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesperson Dillon Tabish:

“And they can cause significant harm to our native pond dwelling species like frogs, turtles, snakes, ducks and fish.”

Tabish says Snapping Turtles are most likely winding up outside their native ranges after being illegally released as aquarium pets.

Wildlife officials ask the public to report snapping turtle sightings in western Montana to local FWP offices rather than killing them.

Western Montana’s only native turtle species is the painted turtle, which have a bright orange underside and generally don’t grow more than a foot long. Snapping turtles can get much bigger, and they have longer tails and a large head with a distinctive hooked upper beak.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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