Common Snapping Turtle Control

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The common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina) is present throughout Missouri and can occur wherever there is permanent water. Largely beneficial, it seldom causes damage but occasionally takes small ducks and goslings. Generally, reducing snapping turtle numbers does not affect fish abundance or fishing success.

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CAUTION!

Do not kill alligator snapping turtles.

The alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) is a species of conservation concern and may not be shot or trapped under this rule. Identify the common snapping turtle correctly before taking control action! Detailed illustrations on page 15 of the Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations show you the differences between the two species. Also see illustrations below. 

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snapping turtle
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Common Snapping Turtle

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Control
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The Wildlife Code of Missouri classifies the common snapping turtle as a game animal that may be taken during the prescribed season. See current regulations for details. The Code also specifies that damage-causing common snapping turtles may be shot or trapped out-of-season without a permit; refer to 3 CSR 10-4.130 Owner May Protect Property; Public Safety of the Code for details and restrictions.

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Not a practical option.

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None are registered.

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Bank lines are made by tying 4 or 5 feet of fishing line to a stout flexible pole or trimmed tree limb 6 to 8 feet long. Place about 12 inches of No. 16 steel wire between the line and hook, preferably a stout hook with about 1 inch between the barb and shaft. Push the pole far enough into the bank to make it secure at an angle that will hold the bait a few inches above the bottom. If possible, set poles in relatively shallow areas near aquatic plant beds or under overhanging banks, stumps, or other cover. Bait with cut fish or other fresh meat. Non-target turtle species must be released unharmed.

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Hoop-net traps are the most effective way to remove damage-causing common snapping turtles. These barrel-shaped traps are typically 4 to 6 feet long with three, four, or five hoops of wood or 6-gauge steel wire. Search the Internet to purchase ready-made traps or make your own using 3-inch square mesh of No. 24 nylon seine twine. Trapping is most effective in the spring, summer, and early fall.

More information about trapping turtles is available from the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management.

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Although this method is unreliable, common snapping turtles can be shot, where allowed, if the opportunity arises. Check with local authorities regarding the use of firearms. Correct identification is crucial because other turtle species cause no damage. Exercise caution because ricocheting bullets are unpredictable and dangerous. Note: shooting is not a legal method for taking common snapping turtles during the prescribed season.

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Common Snapping Turtle

The common snapping turtle is found statewide in Missouri, and it is legal to harvest. Check Missouri Turtle Regulations for more details.

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black and white illustration of common snapping turtle, side view
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Alligator Snapping Turtle

Larger, heavier, and rougher-looking than the common snapping turtle, the rare alligator snapping turtle is protected, and harvest is illegal in Missouri.

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Illustration of alligator snapping turtle
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MDC Staff
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