Controversy Over Preserving the Diamondback Terrapin

Controversy Over Preserving the Diamondback Terrapin

By: Administrator  Date: 12/21/2020 Category: | Animal Legislation | Animals and Society | Wildlife Journal |

On December 16, 2020, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) held a commissioners meeting to discuss proposals, including pet ownership of certain reptiles. The species which drew the focus of the most current proposal is the diamondback terrapin, a native turtle often found in brackish and even marine environments in the southeast United States. Under current regulations, Florida allows possession of two individual diamondback terrapins. Under the new proposal, possession as pets or for any other reason would be outlawed completely. While the FWC contends this action will preserve wild populations, the short-sighted proposed regulation is more likely to increase the value of the species to poachers and unintentionally create a boon for black market operators.

United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK), its Florida affiliate (USARK FL), and other advocacy groups are encouraging FWC to modify their proposal to allow for regulated captive culture of diamondback terrapins, a solution that would meet market demand while decreasing the incentive to poach from wild populations. The reptile trade and hobby has been a regular target of the FWC in recent years, with state regulators showing limited willingness to work with the reptile trade and hobby to promulgate regulations that benefit keepers, businesses, and the environment. FWC has instead focused on outright bans on keeping and culture of several popular species, with little evidence the bans serve any effectiveness as a solution to the alleged problems for which is their basis.

The diamondback terrapin rule was passed as a draft rule and will be on the agenda again during the May 2021 FWC commissioners meeting. Visit USARK FL for more information on the draft rule and how you can get involved.

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