Rare turtle found in Tennessee may become an endangered species

by: Dolan Reynolds

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(WGHP) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday that it will consider making the southern population of the bog tortoise imperiled under the Endangered Species Act.

The agency now has a year to make a decision on protecting the turtle, which is found in Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

The marsh turtle is the smallest turtle found in North America. It measures approximately the length of a human thumb.

Over the past 20 years, the southern population has declined by about 50% and fewer than 2,000 bog tortoises remain.

There are northern and southern populations of swamp turtles, and the northern population was listed as threatened in 1997 under federal law. The southern population was not listed as threatened and its numbers have declined significantly over the past 25 years.