Turtle, turtle: our friends with shells could see new state-level protections

A bill heard in the Environment Policy & Legacy Finance Committee this week would help protect Minnesota’s turtle populations from plummeting to unsustainable levels. This DFL proposal would eliminate licenses for commercial turtle sellers and would require anyone interested in harvesting turtles to obtain a recreational turtle license in addition to an angling license, and it would place a limit on the number of turtles an individual could take.

The majority of other states do now allow any commercial turtle harvesting, and only about five other states have the same or more relaxed restrictions as Minnesota. This bill would expedite the process of phasing out commercial turtle harvesting in the state in its entirety, which has been a goal worked on for nearly 30 years now. Supporters of the legislation argue the state’s turtle populations can no longer sustain the pressure of commercial harvesting practices, especially when combined with impacts from any unreported recreational harvesting.

While these changes would be in place, certain cherished traditions – like turtle racing – would still be preserved, and anyone under the age of 16 would still be able to have a turtle for their personal use without any kind of license or permit.

The bill was laid over and will be considered later this session for possible inclusion in an environment omnibus bill. (SF 1394)