After months of reviewing and discussing the issue of freshwater
turtle harvest in Florida, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) staff will present a draft rule at the Commission
meeting in Tallahassee on April 15.
“Staff is proposing a draft rule that represents the most
comprehensive set of protections and conservation measures for
freshwater turtles in the United States,” said Tim Breault, the
FWC’s director of Habitat and Species Conservation. “Few places in
North America have the rich diversity of turtles that we have here
in Florida, and this proposed rule ensures their long-term
The draft rule would ban the commercial take or sale of wild
freshwater turtles. The draft rule also would prohibit taking
turtles from the wild that are listed on Florida’s imperiled
species list, as well as species that look similar to the imperiled
species, which include common snapping turtles and cooters. In
addition, the collection of eggs would be prohibited. Individuals
would be allowed to take one freshwater turtle per day per person
from the wild for noncommercial use. The transport of more than one
turtle per day would be prohibited.
Some turtle farms currently depend on the collection of wild
freshwater turtles. Under the proposed draft rule, turtle farms,
under a tightly controlled process, would be allowed to collect
turtles for breeding purposes for a two-year period. However, staff
is proposing a review of this process by 2011, and turtle
collection for farms will end if no further action is taken by the
Commission after the review.
The FWC has an open, public process for developing rules.
Commissioners will consider this draft rule at the April 15
Commission meeting. If approved, the rule would be advertised for a
final hearing at the June Commission meeting in Crystal River. The
public may submit comments to the FWC any time during this
rulemaking process and may testify at Commission meetings. The
public may send comments on the draft rule to turtles@MyFWC.com.