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Georgia Finally Steps Up to Protect Native Turtles

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Georgia Finally Steps Up to Protect Native Turtles

From Center for Biological Diversity
February 2012

After years of advocacy by the Center for Biological Diversity and Georgia conservationists, the state has approved its first rules limiting the commercial harvest and export of wild freshwater turtles. Many of Georgia's 19 native turtle species are suffering from rampant commercial harvest.

Turtle traders in the United States catch and export more than 2 million wild-caught freshwater turtles each year, mostly to supply food and medicinal markets in Asia; since 2008 the Center has petitioned 12 states to give wild freshwater turtles a break and ban commercial harvest. Georgia is the last southeastern state to regulate the trade.

The state's new rules are a big step forward, since they prohibit the collection of turtle eggs and rein in unlimited trapping of turtles, but there's still room for improvement: Annual collection limits are too high, for many species, and don't go far enough to safeguard wild turtles.

The Center will keep fighting to protect turtle diversity in Georgia and throughout the country. We've also petitioned to protect 20 freshwater turtles under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Flora and Fauna (CITES) and to grant Endangered Species Act protection to some of our nation's rarest turtles -- including the Cagle's map turtle, a small, beautiful turtle with creamy-yellow stripes on its legs and head, surviving only in the Guadalupe River system in Texas.