COLUMBUS, Ohio— 4/10/17, Press Release
As of today, the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club Ohio have sent more than 3,800 letters asking the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to end unchecked commercial collection of the state’s wild turtles.
Turtle traders in Ohio can now legally collect unlimited numbers of common snapping and softshell turtles to process and sell domestically or export for Asian food and medicinal markets. The letters support a petition seeking a ban on for-profit turtle trading filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and several Ohio-based conservation organizations in January.
The state agency has not yet responded to the letters or petition.
“For-profit turtle traders should not be allowed to put the state’s turtles at risk,” said Collette Adkins, a Center biologist and senior attorney who authored the January petition. “Ohio desperately needs limits on the number of snapping and softshell turtles trappers can take from the wild. Selling so many turtles for meat is bad for the turtles, of course, but also for all of us who care about the health of the state’s waterways and wetlands.”
Under current regulations in Ohio, anyone with an annual fishing license may trap and sell unlimited numbers of common snappers, spiny softshells and smooth softshells. Although Ohio law prohibits live export of turtles, traders can sell live turtles within the state or process the animals to sell across state lines or overseas for meat and medicinal markets.
Also, because turtles bioaccumulate toxins from prey and burrow in
contaminated sediment, turtle meat is often laced with mercury, PCBs and pesticides, posing a health risk. Adult turtles are also taken from the wild to breed hatchlings for the international pet trade.
“All of our neighboring states ban or limit for-profit turtle trapping, and Ohio should too,” said Aaron Acus-Souders, a clean water advocate from the Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club.
None of the states that share a border with Ohio allow unlimited commercial collection of turtles. Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana and West Virginia prohibit all commercial collection of turtles, and Pennsylvania enforces strict bag limits.
During its April 12 meeting, the Ohio Wildlife Council will accept public comment on the state’s turtle regulations. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Wildlife District One Office in Columbus.
Collette Adkins, Center for Biological Diversity, (651) 955-3821, firstname.lastname@example.org
Aaron Acus-Souders, Sierra Club (Clean Water Campaign), (937)-903-5396, Aaron.AcusSouders@SierraClub.org