Environmental experts push for stronger laws to protect native turtles

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. – A new report released by the Center for Biological Diversity is bringing attention to environmentalists ongoing fight to strengthen the commercial harvesting regulations of native turtles across the country.

“Protecting of existing populations and helping to build declining populations is important and regulations are important,” said the Science and Restoration Coordinator for the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, Marianne Walch.

In the report, they identify 10 states who have “weak” laws when it comes to commercial harvesting including Delaware and Maryland. And while the commercial harvesting of diamondback terrapins was banned a while ago in Delaware, we’re told the fight to protect all species is ongoing.

“The private harvest of diamondback terrapins and snapping turtles is still allowed in Delaware. If that harvest is occurring at an unsustainable level than that poses a problem,” said Walch.

Environmental experts say the over-harvesting of native turtles poses a huge threat to the species who have a hard time repopulating.

“If they lose their numbers it can take them a long time to rebuild a population,” said Environmental Scientist for the Delaware Center of the Inland Bays, Andrew McGowan.

They add that by protecting these four-legged reptiles – they’ll be able to continually have a positive impact on the environment.

“They are predators of some of the invertebrates, and the crabs and the shellfish and help keep them under control and the populations of all the life in the bays healthy,” said Walch.

To help track the number of diamondback terrapins in the area, The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays will be launching a new program this spring that is open to the public. If you’re interested in volunteering to help monitor these turtles you can click here, to sign up.


Categories: Delaware, Local News