Connecticut's snapping turtles basically face "wanton destruction," according to the lawmaker striving to change the reptiles' legal status.
Except for snapping turtles, "state law gives protection for virtually all wild animals," Rep. Matthew Lesser, D-Middletown, told The Dodo. Lesser recently introduced a bill for Connecticut's January legislative session that would regulate the hunting and trade of the turtles.
The Nutmeg State's snapping turtles have been exempt from statewide regulation since 1971, when legislators were fearful such protection would stanch the trade of turtle meat. Although a taste for turtle soup in the United States has waned, international demand is booming. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently took action to restrict the export of American turtles, including snappers.
Trappers in Connecticut can catch as many as 30 turtles a year, despite the lack of evidence, in Lesser's view, that this is a sustainable limit. Snapping turtles are found throughout the state but may not have robust populations everywhere, particularly in polluted or urban waterways.
The turtles need the help of humans now more than ever, Lesser said, as they face threats such as climate change, contamination and loss of their wetland habitats.
The bill is now with Connecticut's Environmental Committee.