Game and Fish Tagging Rare Turtles
Written by Andrew-Rossi on August 7, 2018
This spring and early summer Game and Fish crews have been capturing and tagging eastern spiny softshell turtles along the Bighorn and Nowood Rivers in the Bighorn Basin.
Spiny softshell turtles are listed as a species of greatest conservation need in Wyoming due to their restricted range, declining populations and decreasing habitat. Game and Fish staff say that the rare turtles are being captured and released after being weighed, shell dimensions measured, and passive integrated transponder tags are inserted. These tags will allow biologists to identify turtles that have been previously caught and can provide insight as to their growth, movement and size of the turtle population. Trapping to date indicates that the species are rare in this portion of Wyoming with only nine turtles captured in 196 trap nights.
Although observations of turtles have declined in recent years, not much is known about the species distribution or ecology in this portion of Wyoming.
Unlike most other turtles, spiny softshell turtles are primarily aquatic, have rough leathery skin covering their shell and to some degree, have the ability to breathe through their skin underwater.