Snapping turtle gives ULL students an up-close education
LAFAYETTE - Biology students had a close encounter with a massive alligator snapping turtle which wandered onto the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus this week.
Dr. Brad Moon, an associated professor of biology, said students spotted the turtle ambling along a brick wall around Cypress Lake after heavy rain Wednesday. The turtle was captured, but before it was returned to the wild students took measurements of their rare find.
"In all the years I've been teaching, we've never had the opportunity to see one up close like that," said Moon.
Doctoral student Michael Fulbright, 28, was one of the students who found the turtle. He studies how they eat and digest food.
"Personally, this was incredibly exciting. I've actually looked for this species for the last four or five years. They're very hard to find," he said.
Moon said the turtle, an adult female, weighed about 50 pounds and was between 30 and 50 years old. Cypress Lake holds alligators, several species of turtles, and fish such as bass, sunfish, and garfish along with many types of birds.
After consulting with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the University's Office of Environmental Health and Safety, Moon said they returned the turtle to Cypress Lake. Joey Pons, ULL's environmental health and safety director, said if the turtle wandered back out of the lake they'd have the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries relocate it.
"As long as people respect the turtles, and don't antagonize them, there's little if any chance of anything bad happening," Pons said.