A massive alligator snapping turtle was removed from Prineville Reservoir in Oregon last week and killed because wildlife officials feared "the dinosaur of the turtle world" would hurt someone.
A fisherman contacted the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife last week claiming he spotted the alligator snapping turtle — which is distinctive because of its spiked shell, beaklike jaws, and scaled tail. It was the first reported sighting of one in the Oregon wild.
Officials believe the turtle may have been someone's pet at one point.
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"People get these turtles when they are small and release them when they get too big and aggressive to keep as pets," Simon Wray, an ODFW conservation biologist, told KPTV.com
. "It's a poor choice for a pet and the environment."
According to National Geographic, male alligator snapping turtles can grow to weigh as much as 220 pounds.
The ODFW dispatched biologists to catch the turtle, and it was later killed. Conservationists said the reptiles are aggressive and pose a threat to the native fish in the Reservoir and also to any humans who might get near them.
"I'd hate to see these turtles get established in Oregon," ODFW Invasive Species Coordinator Rick Boatner said. "We already have problems in the Willamette Valley with common snapping turtles."
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