Researchers study first wild alligator snapping turtle in IL in - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Researchers study first wild alligator snapping turtle in IL in years found in Union Co.

This rare, wild alligator snapping turtle was found in a creek in Union County, IL.(Source: Eva Kwiatek/University of Illinois News Bureau) This rare, wild alligator snapping turtle was found in a creek in Union County, IL.(Source: Eva Kwiatek/University of Illinois News Bureau)
(KFVS/AP) -

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (KFVS/AP) - Researchers are reporting the first sighting of a wild alligator snapping turtle in Illinois in 30 years.

In a news release, the University of Illinois says that in October 2014, state Natural History Survey herpetologist Chris Phillips was looking for a young male alligator that had recently been released in Union County's Clear Creek when he discovered a 22-pound female that was at least 18 years old.

Now researchers are trying to determine whether the discovery of the state-endangered species offers hope about the animal's survival on its own or is the last of its kind to have survived in Illinois without human intervention.

It's also not clear how much help this particular turtle will be because after researchers attached a radio transmitter to its back for tracking, the transmitter battery died.

According to the University of Illinois, DNA tests showed the turtle belonged at the site and was not a lone traveler from a southern state. Southern Illinois is at the northern end of the turtle species' range.

The alligator snapping turtle is listed as threatened in the U.S.

This story has been corrected to correct gender of scientist who discovered the turtle.

Copyright 2017 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press also contributed to this story.

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