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What if I find a...

Don't Eat Your Turtles!

Petunia is a Red-Eared Slider, a popular turtle at pet stores and food markets alike.
Eating Turtles is a bad idea, for many reasons.

First, most turtles of the world are endangered, threatened, or a special concern. Even the more common turtles are getting scarce in some zones.

Turtles take a long time to get to a point where they can breed, somewhere between 10 and 30 yrs for some. It takes a very long time for a turtle to be 'REPLACED' in the wild when a turtle is taken out for food. If the turtle was a breeding turtle, the entire population of turtles in that area can be destroyed, virtually wiping out the species.

In China box turtles are facing extinction due to the practice of 'traditional medicine'
Turtles can pick up HEAVY METALS and other toxins and can store them in the body. Even moving the animal to a non-polluted area does not make a turtle 'clean'. There are a lot of MILL PONDS and other polluted bodies of water that a turtle can live in. Even if the animal only lived for a short time in a polluted area it can store these toxins and THEY CANNNOT BE COOKED OUT !!! Essentially you are taking your health into your hands when you eat turtle meat of any kind.

Turtles have been on the planet for 280 million years, well before any dinosaurs. Since the dawn of man, many species have been wiped out because we literally ATE THEM ALL. Chelonoidis elephantopus is, just one example, a large species that suffered this fate. There is one species, that there is only one turtle left. Several more species of turtle will no doubt suffer this fate in the next few years.

This magnificent 40 year old turtle was being sold as food before he was rescued.
Most species of sea turtles, (Kemp's Ridley, the most endangered Sea turtle on the planet) were pushed to the brink of extinction because of humans eating them, and their eggs. The long term future of sea turtles is still uncertain.

Turtles are not yours to take, just because they are in the wild does not mean you can take them for food. They are there for everyone to enjoy.

Taking turtles out of the wild is illegal in some states. It is considered HUNTING or TRAPPING. All states have laws on the use of traps and ways a turtle can be taken. Illegal hunting or trapping can carry big fines, and potential jail time, depending on the species or turtle taken.

Tobassco (top) and Sgt. Pockets, were both rescued from a food market.
Taking turtles from the wild can imbalance the ecology of some bodies of water. Turtles are a valuable member of the ecosystem, and without them some lakes, ponds and swamps develop large amounts of algae, dead zones, and fish
It will take 20 years for this turtle to reach maturity in the wild... if they beat the odds.
and mosquito population problems. Turtle habitats are shrinking, and there are less turtles now than anytime in history.

There are lots of other acceptable forms of food, I am not saying that everyone needs to be a vegetarian, but some animals, because of circumstances, simply should not be eaten.

Turtles are one of the most popular pets in the United States, and at the same time people eat turtles. How can you have a country where one person has a turtle as a pet... and others eating them at the same time? It would be like if someone opened up a restaurant that served puppies. I am sure that idea makes most people sick, and if it doesn't you should consider looking into yourself.

A few thoughts from Natasha....

In a perfect world, trapping/hunting turtles would be illegal, but in most areas, it is still allowed. However, no state or area is without at least some rules of protection. For example, Massachusetts prohibits many traps and has catch limits on even the most common species.

My point is this, just because someone is out in a boat with loads of equipment, it doesn't follow that everything he is doing is above the board. As more areas and other countries enact laws to protect turtles, more people illegally poach turtles. Most of these people count on you not knowing that what they are doing is illegal. Know some important phone numbers, like the Environmental Police.

The same can be said about Asian or other Ethnic Food Markets, just because they are selling turtles in a case, in a market, doesn't mean it is legal. Yes, even in the twenty-first century, it is still legal to sell turtles as food, but it can and often is done illegally. You can help the turtles by watching for this and calling the authorities to make sure it is done legally. In many cases it isn't and in the few where it is being done legally, you can make it not worth the headache by getting the authorities involved (like the board of health).

Environmental Police:

Worcester Board of Health:**
(508) 799-8531

**Every major city and large town has a board of health, look up yours.

When you talk to your children or your grandchildren, you can take them to a park or the lake, and they can see a turtle basking on a rock, or swimming. If we continue to eat them at this rate, we will have to show the next generation of people what a turtle "looked like" in a book.

Some animals should be simply left out of the food chain for people. Turtles are among the animals on this list, elephants, dolphins, whales, and other animals that are "special to the world" or take a long time to grow.

In the 2010 Year, the Turtle Rescue League discovered that an ethnic supermarket in Worcester MA, was selling former pet turtles (Red-Eared Sliders) as food. They were in horrible conditions and we were able to put a stop to it, we saved 4 wonderful turtles from becoming food on someone's plate. It was a long expensive battle. Click here to read all about it.
Click image to read about the rescue.


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