Use a different bait type: Tortoises, terrapins, side-necked & softshell turtles

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • Two studies evaluated the effects of using a different bait type on tortoise, terrapin, side-necked and softshell turtles. Both studies were in the USA.





  • Unwanted catch (2 studies): One randomized, controlled study in the USA found that a crab pot with mackerel bait caught more diamondback terrapins than when chicken bait or no bait was used. One replicated, paired study in the USA found that hoop nets with soap bait caught fewer turtles than nets with cheese bait.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A randomized, controlled study (years not provided) in a brackish water experimental enclosure in South Carolina, USA (McKee et al. 2016) found that using mackerel bait in a crab pot increased catch rates of diamondback terrapin Malaclemys terrapin compared to chicken or no bait. Mackerel bait increased the number of terrapins caught (1.2 entries/terrapin/h) compared to chicken or no bait, which produced similar results (chicken: 0.6; no bait: 0.2 entries/terrapin/h). In total, 25 wild terrapins were caught to participate in three randomly ordered trials: mackerel bait, chicken bait and no bait. A single crab pot with chimney was used to test each bait type. Terrapins were monitored by webcam in 90-minute videos/treatment.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated, paired study in 2014 of 13 reservoirs in Kentucky, USA (Long et al. 2017) found that using soap rather than cheese as fishing bait in hoop nets reduced unwanted catch of turtles in a catfish Ictalurus punctatus fishery. Unwanted catch of all turtles in hoop nets was reduced with soap bait (7 turtles/net deployment) compared to cheese bait (11 turtles/net deployment). Turtle mortality was reduced with soap bait compared to cheese (data reported as statistical model outputs). Catch rates of commercially targeted catfish were similar between soap-baited (1,613 individuals) and cheese-baited hoop nets (1,429 individuals) although soap-baited nets caught larger catfish (344 mm average length) compared to cheese-baited (321 mm). In June 2014, four to six tandem hoop net combinations (three nets/combination, each 3.4 m long with 25 mm bar mesh and seven 0.8 m hoops) were deployed at <4 m depths in 13 reservoirs (70 total net deployments, two sampling periods). Nets were either baited with 800g cheese logs or 800g Zote © soap. Nets were fished for two days; all animals were removed and nets were then reset with the opposite bait and fished for a further two days. In total six turtle species were caught, of which three species (red-eared slider Trachemys scripta elegans, common musk Sternotherus odoratus and common snapping turtles Chelydra serpentina) were caught frequently enough to assess differences in mortality by bait type.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Sainsbury K.A., Morgan W.H., Watson M., Rotem G., Bouskila A., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2021) Reptile Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for reptiles. Conservation Evidence Series Synopsis. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

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Reptile Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Reptile Conservation
Reptile Conservation

Reptile Conservation - Published 2021

Reptile synopsis

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