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
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
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
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