Magnitude of the freshwater turtle exports from the US: long term trends and early effects of newly implemented harvest management regimes.
Vandewege, Michael W.
Davis, Scott K.
Forstner, Michael R. J.
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Unregulated commercial harvest remains a major threat for turtles across the globe. Due to continuing demand from Asian markets, a significant number of turtles are exported from the United States of America (US). Beginning in 2007, several southeastern states in the US implemented restrictions on the commercial harvest of turtles, in order to address the unsustainable take. We have summarized freshwater turtle exports from the US between 2002 and 2012 and demonstrated that the magnitude of turtle exports from the US remained high although the exports decreased throughout the decade. Louisiana and California were the major exporters. The majority of exports were captive bred, and from two genera, Pseudemys and Trachemys. We review the changes over the decade and speculate that the increase in export of wild turtles out of Louisiana after 2007 could be a consequence of strict regulations in surrounding states (e.g., Alabama, Florida). We suggest that if wild turtle protection is a goal for conservation efforts, then these states should work together to develop comprehensive regulation reforms pertaining to the harvest of wild turtles.