Target: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Goal: Regulate the exportation of American freshwater turtle overseas
There is a growing worldwide demand for freshwater turtles. In many Asian countries, turtle meat is considered highly nutritious and is thought to contain special medicinal properties. Plus, small turtles are desirable animal companions and are frequently sold in foreign pet shops. This high demand has helped the freshwater turtle trade grow exponentially in the last decade, prompting many Americans to trap and sell the turtles that live within the borders of the United States. Last year, more than 2 million of America’s freshwater turtles were captured and shipped overseas.
Not surprisingly, the foreign desire for turtles is highly detrimental to the species living in the United States. Turtles like the diamondback terrapin are already threatened by rising water temperatures, over-development, and pollution. Even without the trade, their numbers would be dwindling. But with the high demand for their meat and shells, these turtles are rapidly approaching extinction.
There is hope for these animals. The trade of freshwater turtles is completely unregulated by the U.S. government. A few states have placed restrictions on turtle trapping, but they are in the minority. However, if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were to list freshwater turtles under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the species would receive federal protection. The U.S. government would be required to monitor and control all turtle exports. Trappers would be required to apply for permits and over-trapping would be forbidden. The turtles’ numbers in the wild would stop decreasing so rapidly, and America’s fragile ecosystems would not be as threatened. Urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list freshwater turtles under CITES and regulate their exportation overseas.
Dear U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
America’s freshwater turtles are disappearing. Each year, millions of them are captured and shipped overseas to be used for food, medicinally, or to serve as household pets. Their numbers in the wild are dropping rapidly because of this trade, and many species are nearing extinction.
However, there is something you can do for these turtles. If the species were protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the U.S. government would regulate and monitor the trade of their shells, meat, and live bodies. Hunters and trappers would be required to apply for permits, and over-trapping would be forbidden. The regulation would ensure that the turtles remain in high numbers in the wild.
For the sake of the survival of America’s freshwater turtles, please protect the species under CITES. Thank you.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: William Warby via WikiCommons