Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Protect Freshwater Turtles

Many freshwater turtles species teeter dangerously close to extinction and urgently need your help. Unregulated international trade is depleting native turtle populations in the U.S. at an alarming rate -- each year millions of wild-caught freshwater turtles are exported from the U.S.

In response to a 2011 Center for Biological Diversity petition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) for Blanding's turtles, spotted turtles and diamondback terrapins. Once a species is listed under CITES, international trade is monitored and regulated with permits.

Please take action to tell the Fish and Wildlife Service that you support CITES protections for freshwater turtles -- before it's too late.
I am writing to praise the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for proposing that the following freshwater turtle species be included in CITES Appendix II:

-- Spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata)
-- Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii)
-- Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin

The U.S. is a key player in the international turtle trade with exports reaching millions of live turtles each year. Most turtles harvested in the United States are exported to supply food and medicinal markets in Asia, where turtle consumption rates have soared and where native populations of turtles have been rapidly depleted.

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Scientists warn that freshwater turtles cannot sustain any significant level of harvest from the wild without leading to population crashes. Listing under CITES would help remedy this situation by requiring adequate documentation and by ensuring that trade is consistent with their survival. Export permits for species listed on Appendices II are issued only if the trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species.

Each of the proposed species is subject to international trade for their meat or for the pet trade, and wild collection could have a detrimental impact on the species. Commercial collecting of wild turtles also intensifies the effects of water pollution, road mortality, incidental take from fishery devices and habitat loss, which are already contributing to declines of these turtles.

I am so pleased that the Service is acting to stop unsustainable international trade of these native freshwater turtle species. Thank you.


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