Freshwater-turtle ecologists rely on effective baits to capture target species. We conducted a bait-preference study for Sternotherus odoratus (Eastern Musk Turtle) in 2 phases during the 2014, 2015, and 2016 field seasons at Comal Springs, New Braunfels, TX. During Phase 1, we compared the effectiveness of buffalo chicken to other malodourous or previously used successful baits for capturing Eastern Musk Turtles. During Phase 2, we compared catch rates when using buffalo chicken, raw chicken, or fried chicken as bait. We also tested for differences in the effectiveness of buffalo chicken as a bait choice between sexes and among seasons. During Phase 1, we captured 231 of 276 Eastern Musk Turtles (84%) in traps baited with buffalo chicken. During Phase 2, we captured 46 of 72 Eastern Musk Turtles (63.9%) in traps baited with buffalo chicken. We captured significantly more turtles when we used Buffalo chicken in comparison to all other baits. Our results indicate that buffalo chicken is an effective novel bait that could be used to increase capture rates of Eastern Musk Turtles. Additional studies are needed in other portions of the Eastern Musk Turtle's range to determine if the attraction to buffalo chicken as a trap bait is a local or widespread phenomenon.
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Vol. 16 • No. 2