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Dangerous alligator snapping turtle found in southwestern Japan irrigation pond

An alligator snapping turtle found in an irrigation pond in Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture is seen in this Dec. 13, 2019 photo provided by the Kurume Municipal Government.

KURUME, Fukuoka -- A dangerous alligator snapping turtle has been found in an irrigation pond in this southwestern Japan city, the local government said.

Considering the possibility that there are more alligator-snapping turtles in the pond, the Kurume Municipal Government has informed the public that if they find such turtles, they should alert the city without touching them. The turtles native to North America possesses a strong bite force, and whoever touches one could be bitten if not careful.

According to city officials, a worker found the turtle in the soil while carrying out dredging work in the irrigation pond in Kurume on Dec. 2. The worker then captured the turtle and alerted the municipal government, which is consulting with the Fukuoka Prefectural Government over how to deal with animal.

The alligator snapping turtle is designated by the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals as an animal that could harm people or even endanger people's lives. Keeping the animal requires permission from the prefectural government concerned and other bodies.

The whereabouts of three alligator snapping turtles kept by a household in the city with permission from the authorities have been confirmed. The municipal government suspects that the turtle found in the irrigation pond was kept by someone without permission and escaped or was dumped by its owner.

The municipal government's environmental protection division that is handling the case can be contacted by calling 0942-30-9043 (in Japanese).

(Japanese original by Naoko Takashiba, Kurume Bureau)

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