Wild turtles belong to nature, not as pets

Want a pet turtle? Don’t pull one out of its natural habitat, say Vermont Fish and Wildlife officials.

Taking a turtle out of the wild, even if only for a short time, can harm both the turtle and the population of its species, said Vermont Fish and Wildlife herpetologist Luke Groff. Moreover, it is illegal.

It is currently turtle nesting season in Vermont, and people can see more turtles while they are driving and hiking. Fish and Wildlife officials say Vermonters should either leave the turtles alone or, if they are on the roadway, help them cross the street safely.

Why does taking turtles out of the wild cause damage?

Many turtles native to Vermont do not breed until they are at least 10 years old, which means the loss of potentially mature turtles can have serious consequences for populations in a particular area, Groff said.

“Older, sexually mature females are critically important to the long-term persistence of some Vermont turtle populations,” Groff said.

A sign in Alburgh indicates that the roadway under the Missisquoi Bay bridge is prohibited.  Spiny Softshells, listed as threatened in Vermont and Quebec, hibernate along the causeway.  Photographed March 20, 2017.

Releasing a turtle in an unfamiliar area is also a bad idea. This could introduce diseases to wildlife in this population or disrupt the genetics of the population, Groff said.

“Adult turtles usually have well-defined home ranges, so releasing a turtle into unfamiliar habitat can lead to its slow death because it won’t know where to find food or find shelter,” he said. he declared.

More turtle cover:Turtles on the roads of Vermont: when to lend a hand – and when to keep your distance

What are the sanctions?

People who take turtles in the wild without a state permit could face fines or lose any wildlife permits or licenses they might hold, according to Vermont law.

Some Vermont turtle species are also rare or threatened – like the Eastern Spiny Softshell – so penalties could increase if the turtle is considered threatened or endangered.

Also leave skunks and other small animals alone:Resist the temptation to cuddle these adorable baby wild animals, warn Vermont biologists

Fisheries and wildlife officials encourage people to view or take pictures of turtles from a distance to avoid disturbing their habitat. They are also asking the people of Vermont to report sightings of some of the rarer turtles, including spiny softshell turtles, wood turtles and spotted turtles.

A painted turtle

More information on reporting turtle sightings can be found at vtfishandwildlife.com/get-involved/citizen-reporting.

Contact Elizabeth Murray at 802-651-4835 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @LizMurrayBFP.

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