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article imageUK angler catches 'giant creature' of decade-long fishermen tales

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By Laura Trowbridge     Jul 10, 2010 in Lifestyle
A man who was angling for carp in a Midlands, UK reservoir, instead caught the subject of a decade-long mystery for local fishing circles.
Steve Bellion, 23, hooked the 57 lb, 2 ft-long reptile at Earlswood Reservoir, near Birmingham, UK. It was later identified as an 80-year-old female alligator snapping turtle, which normally live in the eastern corner of the USA, and can live to 160-years-old.
Numerous tales of a mysterious 'giant creature' biting through fishing lines and savaging the duck population around the area have now been answered by the capture of this behemoth.
According to Sky News. the turtle was sent to West Midland Safari Park, where it will be quarantined for 30 days and checked by vets. She will then be housed in a vivarium with a male companion.
Bob Lawrence, director of wildlife at the safari park, said: "It's looking fine, but so it should be having had half of Britain's fish stocks at its mercy! If it grew any larger it would have been a danger to shipping."
Lawrence went on to say: "Thankfully alligator snapping turtles are a rarity in British waters - they can create havoc for native species.
"It was probably dumped by its owner after it grew too big or became a nuisance.
"They have been known to attack small domestic pets or children, but I don't think this one would have drifted too far from the water.
"Because it has no natural predators, it could have lived to a ripe old age and grown to up to 80kg. I just hope there was only one and it didn't have any offspring."
He said this turtle demonstrates "the danger of introducing alien species into Britain's waterways, in the same way that American signal crayfish have caused such depletion to fish stocks and the UK's native crayfish."
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