TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is offering rewards for those who report poaching of alligator snapping turtles.

The TPWD is offering up to $1,000 for people who report poaching of alligator snapping turtles to the Operation Game Thief (OGT), a wildlife crime-stoppers program. Due to additional funds from the agency’s Conservation License Plate program, the reward can be doubled if the tip leads to convictions for snapping turtle cases.

The snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in North America. Due to its appearance, it is often referred to as the dinosaur of the turtle world and are a threatened species.

According to National Geographic, these turtles have no natural predators other than humans, who kill them for their meat, shells and sell in animal trade. The turtles live in eastern Texas to Florida and as far north as Ohio.

“The high survivorship and long lives of adults makes populations of alligator snapping turtles very sensitive to the removal of even a small number of breeding adults,” said Paul Crump, TPWD Herpetologist. “That is why Texas prohibited collection of this species back in the ’80s and why we need the help of Texans who work and spend time on the rivers in East Texas to reduce poaching. We want to keep this species around to help maintain our healthy rivers and streams.”

OGT offers up to $1,000 for information leading to a conviction for a wildlife crime, but now with the additional funds, rewards for alligator snapping turtle tips can be increased up to $2,000.

“OGT is proud to be part of a concerted effort, along with the TPWD Wildlife Division and the Conservation License Plate Program, to give at-risk species the spotlight they deserve in return for the value they hold to Texas, its citizens and visitors,” said Stormy King, Assistant Commander of Wildlife Enforcement. “With funds provided by this effort, we were recently able to match a $1,000 OGT reward and deliver $2,000 to an anonymous caller who helped convict a turtle poacher. Hopefully, word gets out.”

People who would like to send an anonymous tips that assist game wardens in apprehending individuals in violation of state law can report it to OGT by calling (800) 7972-GAME (4263).