MDC invites public to help with turtle trapping study in Columbia

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COLUMBIA, Mo. — Have you ever thought about being a conservation scientist? Do you like turtles and are looking for an opportunity to study these animals up close? The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) invites the public to get their hands wet and dirty and discover nature by helping with trapping and tagging turtles at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area (CA) in Columbia. Upcoming dates and times are:

  • Wednesday, May 14, noon to 5 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 15, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Monday, May 19, noon to 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, May 20, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Volunteers will help trap and tag turtles, then release them back to the area they were found. The opportunity is open to all ages, but children must be accompanied by an adult or mentor.

Turtle trapping is fairly messy work, and those who participate should plan on wearing clothing that they don’t mind getting dirty. Additionally, if staying for the entire day, volunteers should bring water and a sack lunch.

Since 2011, Eagle Bluffs CA Manager Vic Bogosian has been trapping turtles and entering the information in a large database. Turtle trapping is important for Eagle Bluffs CA because knowing where the area’s turtle populations are concentrated helps Bogosian make decisions about water levels on the wetland area. The Department of Conservation makes management decisions based in part on scientific research like turtle trapping.

“As the manager of a wetland, I make decisions each day that help keep conditions ideal for migratory bird populations,” said Bogosian. “However, I also consider how those decisions affect other wildlife species.”

Similar to migratory birds, aquatic turtles need access to appropriate water levels, temperature, food and vegetation for cover.

“Because turtles are sensitive to their environment, the information I collect about the turtle population at Eagle Bluffs helps me make sound management decisions for the area,” Bogosian said.

This project also benefits volunteers by providing an opportunity to participate in a research experience.

“This is a great way to discover nature and to learn more about your wetland,” said Bogosian. “There are opportunities for every age level. I encourage anyone with an interest to come and volunteer.”

To sign up, or to learn more about future turtle trapping opportunities, contact Bogosian at or 573-445-3882.

Eagle Bluffs CA is in Boone County at the southwest edge of Columbia, near McBaine. For more information about Eagle Bluffs CA, visit