Target: Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
Goal: Save imperiled turtles from the illegal pet trade
The turtle population in Ontario, Canada is quickly shrinking. The reptiles are being sold quickly on the international pet market. Even though international pet trading is illegal, North American turtles are found for sale in pet stores in Europe and Asia. North American turtles are by far the most common as pets. Researchers have found many endangered turtles for sale in Asia, including spotted turtles, wood turtles, box turtles and snapping turtles. The spotted turtle and snapping turtle are classified as endangered, but the other species do not have much brighter futures either, especially given the rate of poaching.
These endangered turtles are very profitable, and profitability is the main condition for a black market to arise. Some of these turtles are sold for $1200 in Asia. While it is hard to guess how much exactly this black market is worth, the United Nations puts it at around $200 million. Creating a black market from Canada is easy because different provinces have different rules about turtle protection. If the turtles are simply moved from one province to another, they can be taken out of the country much more easily.
Poaching turtles at such a high rate is not only damaging their population, it is also is damaging the ecosystem. Turtles in Ontario are a vital part of the ecosystem, and taking them away is taking away from a natural piece of that ecosystem.
Ontario, in particular, has some vague and ineffective legislation when it comes to turtle protection. For example, snapping turtles are on a watch list, but anyone with a fishing license can also hunt and eat them. Because of legislation like this, turtles are often taken out of other provinces and smuggled into Ontario. Sign the petition below to call on Ontario’s Premier to push for more consistent and strong legislation to offer turtles more protection.
Dear Premier Wynne,
Turtles are a huge part of Canada’s ecosystem. A dwindling turtle population not only hurts the turtle’s themselves, but also all the plants and animals that are dependent on them for one reason or another. Therefore, it is disheartening to see poachers taking turtles out of the ecosystem at such an unsustainable rate.
We are calling on you to introduce stronger legislation regarding turtle protection. To keep a sustainable ecosystem in Canada, the turtles cannot be poached at the the rate that is currently happening. Even though some of these turtles are actually on the endangered species list, they are still being poached. Because of the varying levels of protection in various provinces, poachers are able to move their product around before exporting it internationally. This process must be stopped.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: D. Gordon E. Robertson via Wikipedia Commons