Kentucky falls within the northern periphery of the range of Macrochelys temminckii (Alligator Snapping Turtle). To better understand the status and distribution of this species, we conducted a multi-year survey targeting areas with historical records and other suitable habitat in western Kentucky. A secondary goal of this study was to collect baseline freshwater turtle-distribution data from western Kentucky. Survey efforts from 30 May 2003 through 17 May 2012 resulted in no Alligator Snapping Turtle captures. Total survey effort comprised 829 net nights over 118 survey nights at 24 sites within 10 Kentucky counties. The average number of survey nights per site was 4.9, and the average number of net nights per site was 34.5. Despite survey efforts comparable to other studies, it is possible that Alligator Snapping Turtles remain in suitable habitats in Kentucky at densities that were too low to detect with our survey methods. If continued intensive outreach and sampling in Kentucky fail to detect this species, the reintroduction of captive-propagated individuals should be considered in suitable habitat.
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Vol. 13 • No. 2