In the state of Texas, there has been such a downturn in the population of four species of turtles that wildlife authorities are having to take immediate action. The common snapping turtle, the red-eared slider turtle, the smooth soft shell turtle and the spiny shell turtle are seeing their numbers in the wild decrease to the point that if action was not taken, they would soon become extinct.
These four turtle species are facing problems for a multitude of reasons. One of the major reasons for the turtle’s decline is due to the commercial removal of these turtles from the wild. While the consumption of turtle meat isn’t that common in Texas or the rest of the United States, the practice of eating turtles is quite common in some parts of Asia. Turtle meat is seen as a delicacy, and some people are willing to pay a lot of money for it. Turtles are also commercially exploited to meet the demands of those who want to have a turtle as a pet.
Commercial removal isn’t the only problem that these four species of turtles are facing. Many of the places where these turtles live in Texas are experiencing high levels of pollution. Turtles who live in polluted water have a likelihood of developing many types of diseases including cancers.
The state of Texas also has a rapidly increasing population. As the state continues to attract new residents, turtle habitat is being destroyed to make room for housing units and community development projects.
The turtles are also the victims of their own biology. Turtles have a long lifespan, and they reproduce at a slow rate. They are not able to reproduce fast enough to stem their current level of decline.
Texas will now prohibit the taking of these four types of turtles from the wild. This law will apply to both private citizens and to commercial turtle harvesting businesses. It is hoped that with this threat removed, turtle numbers will have the change to stabilize.