A bill protecting turtles in Connecticut has unanimously passed the House. The legislation seeks to carve out conservations for snapping turtles and red-eared sliders.
Red-eared sliders are often bought as pets when they’re small babies. When they grow up, owners sometimes release them into the wild, which can throw local ecosystems out of balance.
To counter that, legislators in the state House of Representatives voted 141 to 0 in support of a bill heavily restricting red-eared slider sales. It would also make it illegal to release the turtles into the wild.
Dennis Richardson, a professor of biology at Quinnipiac University, submitted testimony in favor of the regulation.
“When people purchase these cute little turtles, they are not prepared for the large, dirty animal that they may grow into,” Richardson wrote, noting he and his colleagues have seen evidence demonstrating red-eared sliders are mating in the wild.
The measure is opposed by some in the pet industry, who say an outright ban on red-eared sliders is unnecessary and that the turtles should be sold or exchanged by “responsible businesses and enthusiasts in Connecticut.”
The bill also seeks to protect snapping turtles.
According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, snapping turtles are widespread in Connecticut, and are currently legal to catch, if trappers abide by size and take limits.
But John Hall, executive director of the Jonah Center for Earth and Art, and a supporter of the turtle bill, said those limits are not enough and they’re difficult to enforce.
Hall said he sees turtle traps around the edges of marshland while paddling around Middletown and Cromwell.
“We used to see a lot more, frankly, than the recent years,” Hall said. “I don’t know if that’s because of the regulation, or I don’t know if that’s because the snapping turtles have been virtually eliminated from the Floating Meadows, where we do most of our paddling.”
The bill would ban commercial trade until the state draws up stricter rules.
It now awaits a vote in the state Senate.