In My Hard Shelled Opinion
The editorial pages of

Main Page

My Opinions

Our Mission

About Us

  Domesticated Turtles
  Abundance of Turtles
  Urban Turtles
  No-Kill Conservation
  Turtles Can Play

Save Alabama Red-bellies

Pennsylvania Laws

Texas Laws



Abundance of Turtles

     It is my opinion that no species of turtles native to the United States need to be threatened with extinction or treated as such by any government agency. All species of turtles can be captive bred, if necessary, to insure their abundance.

     It is also my opinion that the goals of federal and state agencies are not to have all species of turtles occur in abundance however they define abundance. I define abundance as numerous enough so that a species of turtles need not be banned from collection or possession by individuals to keep as pets.

     The use of endangered species regulations by federal and state agencies insure the continued decline of species in decline, hopefully at a slower pace. Listing of species as endangered or threatened is not a recovery plan and does not require a recovery plan. Denying the public possession of declining species does not stop the decline. Captive breeding can reverse decline and insure abundance of all species captive and wild.

     The elite professionals employed by federal and state agencies focus only on animals living in wild environments and reproducing naturally. They seek to define abundance of animals relative to estimates they make as though 300 million people in this country do not exist or alter the environment. They define the game, set the rules, and draw the conclusions. They are not challenged. They can never be wrong!

     What about domesticated turtles? Yes domesticated pet turtles that reproduce and multiply. What about the millions of pet turtles that reproduce. What about the millions of turtles raised on turtle farms each year in this country. What about the countless number of turtles inhabiting yards and nesting in yards and other places that are not considered wild environments. The regulators like to cast their authority over all turtles but do not recognize domesticated turtles as part of turtle populations.

     I am often asked if I breed turtles. My answer is always the same. "No! They do that all by themselves." I simply protect the eggs from predators, give the eggs optimal conditions in which to develop, and care for babies that hatch. Most of the babies are placed in new homes. It would be illegal for me to release them in Pennsylvania.

     Let me repeat my opinion. I believe that no species of turtles in the United States need to be threatened with extinction or treated as such by government agencies. Captive breeding of turtles can produce an abundance of all species of turtles and eliminate needs to restrict possession of native species turtles as pets.

     This is not the reality nor the trend of government regulations pertaining to the keeping of turtles as pets. Owners of pet turtles are silent. Elite professionals and touchy-feely do-gooders are winning the day. But I will no longer be silent. I hope I can spark others to speak out as well. 

     I will admit that some temporary restrictions may be appropriate if they are part of comprehensive recovery plans, plans that include numerous captive breeding programs.

     I often say that you should listen to your turtles. What are they telling you about themselves? If you found a turtle in your yard, did you find an extremely rare turtle or did you find an very common turtle. Oh, but your yard is not the natural environment. But is your yard part of the environment turtles choose to live in. Maybe, just maybe, these poor helpless critters government agencies feel the need to protect are adapting to living with us like rabbits and snakes. Won't that be something to regulate!

     I plan to dig into these matters further. Listen, learn, and form your own opinions. 

Thomas R. Schucker