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Eric Munscher [00:00:00] In 2016, we actually lucked upon a study of a lifetime in Buffalo Bayou, which is the heart of Houston.

Eric Munscher [00:00:10] Buffalo Bayou carves its way right through downtown Houston. It is a old river; it is a modified river. It is now the largest flood conveyance of Houston.

Eric Munscher [00:00:21] And we had a study at Memorial Park back in 2016 that was just looking at a bioassessment of the park. This park wanted to know what species live in the park.

Eric Munscher [00:00:32] And we added traps to Buffalo Bayou at that point, thinking we're going to check off the typical turtles - red-eared sliders, spiny softshell, maybe a river cooter.

Eric Munscher [00:00:41] We put traps in, and the next day we caught a juvenile. This was like a 4-pound little alligator snapping turtle.

Eric Munscher [00:00:49] And at that point, we called Texas Parks and Wildlife to tell them what we had.

Eric Munscher [00:00:53] This is a juvenile turtle. This shows breeding.

Eric Munscher [00:00:56] Because, prior to that, it was just thought that there might be some relic old individuals in Buffalo Bayou. That's not providing a actual breeding population.

Eric Munscher [00:01:06] This little guy proved that they were breeding.

Eric Munscher [00:01:08] So we got the turtle added to our permit right away, and the next day we ended up catching five more, including a 96-pound male, two big females that are in the trap with him.

Eric Munscher [00:01:21] And we knew we were on to something. This was just one little site. And through that time span now, from 2016 to current, we're up to 142 alligator snapping turtles within Buffalo Bayou, from downtown Houston to the Barker Dam area of Houston, which is about 28 total river miles.

Eric Munscher [00:01:43] In that 28 river mile distance, you're looking at city park area with Memorial Park, which is great habitat, lots of residential, so lots of housing where it could be million-dollar mansions and large HOAs, or heavy commercial.

Eric Munscher [00:02:01] So, it's a really atypical habitat, because in Houston the building zones are pretty ... you can build wherever you want. So, they build right up to the bayou a lot of times.

Eric Munscher [00:02:12] So, you have atypical habitat for this species, where I would never have dreamed that this major dense population of this iconic and potentially threatened species would be in the fourth largest city in the country.

Eric Munscher [00:02:26] And the bayou's just somehow being able to preserve itself as fantastic habitat for that turtle, and for other species. We actually see lots of giant alligator gar in the same bayou. We know that there are coyotes that use the banks of the bayou. We've seen various really neat species of bird using it, and there's a lot of habitat available, even though it's in downtown Houston.