Reintroduction is a common management tool for conserving imperiled species, but many reintroductions have included little or no postrelease assessment of project success. The alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) is a long-lived species that has experienced significant declines throughout its range, although suitable habitat remains. We report the findings of a reintroduction effort that was initiated in 2008 near the northwestern limit of the species' range. Two hundred forty-six M. temminckii were released into the Caney River and its tributary, Pond Creek, from 2008 to 2010. All turtles exhibited measurable growth by their first recapture 1–3 yrs after release, and no decline in body condition was observed, either in comparison to prerelease body condition or to the condition of animals in the same cohorts that remained in captivity. Apparent survival and recapture probabilities increased with age. Apparent survivorship values were higher for turtles released in the main channel of the Caney River, but recapture probabilities were higher in its tributary. Ultimately, survivorship values may have been influenced by low recapture rates and emigration, in addition to mortality.
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Vol. 14 • No. 1