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Rogue turtle turns up again

THE Monster of Earls-wood Lakes - a huge turtle with a savage bite - has made another dramatic public appearance and given an angler the shock of his life.

THE Monster of Earls-wood Lakes - a huge turtle with a savage bite - has made another dramatic public appearance and given an angler the shock of his life.

Thirty-seven-year-old Drew Hammonds was with friends fishing for carp in Engine Pool last week when he unwittingly reeled in an alligator snapping turtle, which will attack humans and can easily rip off a person's fingers.

It was thought to be the same 40lb-plus creature that was hooked by a Wythall angler last October and which forced its way back into the water, preventing it being removed to a safer location.

Mr Hammonds, from Walsall, described his unusual catch as the size of a dustbin lid and looking like a crocodile. "It was ripping through the net with its jaws and was snapping at us," he said. "I struggled to get the hook out because it was snapping so much. It was a bit shocking."

He returned the turtle to the pool. "People have said I should not have put it back in the water but I don't know what I was supposed to do with something that vicious. It was nasty."

The alligator snapping turtle is native to the southern United States and is found in the Mississippi River. It can grow to more than 60lb in weight and live for over 100 years.

Chris Charles, a reptile keeper at West Midlands Safari Park who lives in Shirley, said the turtle had probably been kept by someone as a pet and had been dumped in the lake when it started to grow much bigger.

"Judging by the reports of its size, the turtle could have been in the lake for many years," he added. " I would like to try to catch it and bring it to the safari park, where we already have one alligator snapping turtle, a male. We might be able to tempt it out with a rat on a hook.

"But we can't do it now - turtles go into hibernation about this time of the year. Maybe next spring."

Carl Nicholls, of British Waterways, which owns Earlswood Lakes, said: "We don't want the turtle in the pool. It's a vicious creature and has been hooked a number of times now by anglers.

"We have already made an attempt to catch it, but that failed, and would appreciate any offer of help from the safari park or any other reptile experts to catch it and take it away."

 

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