A bill proposing the end of commercial turtle harvesting in Minnesota has been reintroduced to the state Senate once again.

The current rules around capturing turtles for meat or pets states:

With the exception of the Common Snapping Turtle, Painted Turtle, or Spiny Softshell Turtle, native turtles may not be sold as pets in the State of Minnesota.

This bill was originally proposed back in 2019, and aims to end the exception for those three turtles, which would ultimately result in the end of commercial harvesting in Minnesota.

The main argument for the end of commercial harvesting of turtles has to do with sustainability. Currently, a license is needed to partake, but there is no turtle limit for commercial harvesters. Turtles have very long life spans, and can take a decade or more to fully mature. If they are over-harvested, that means there won't be enough adult turtles to repopulate the species at the rate needed and can result in extinction.

While this bill aims to end the commercial harvest, the rules for recreational turtle harvesting for personal use will be left as is.

Turtles are a huge part of Minnesota ecosystems. Snapping turtles are predators that keep other small species in check, and smaller turtles eat smaller fish and lake vegetation, acting as clean up crews in wetlands. Without them, our lakes, rivers, and wetlands would be drastically different.

I love watching turtles at the lake in the summer and would hate to see them go extinct (even if they do steal the bait when I'm fishing). Here's to hoping this bill works out or provides some sort of positive impact for Minnesota's turtle population.

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