About 14 alligator snapping turtles were released in the wild in Louisiana in an effort to “replenish the species,” according to a news release by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries on Thursday.

The turtles were released at Boeuf Wildlife Management Area in Caldwell Parish, which was part of the head start program, Wednesday to help the species thrive and multiply its population.

The federal government is said to be scheduled to decide and declare whether the turtles are endangered or threatened next year. The state biologists, on the other hand, are working to reduce the need for such listing.

Adult alligator snapping turtles are known to have very formidable jaws, but most of their babies suffer immediately after being born – often getting eaten by larger animals. This is why department biologists have been raising baby turtles since 2012, so they could release them when they grew bigger.

Keri Lejeune of the department’s Wildlife Diversity Program told AP in an email Friday that those released ranged from 6 inches to 12.5 inches, and are at least two to six years old.

Related stories:
– Animal rescue group needs discarded bras for injured turtles
– Endangered green sea turtles are making a comeback
– Vets built wheelchair for turtle who lost both his back legs