If you haven't met Tim Walsh, he manages our NatureWorks exhibit. There's more to Tim than NatureWorks. He's regarded as an expert on turtles and recently participated in a report on the Suwannee Cooter, a protected turtle. He describes the paper like this:

“This project came about from a couple of colleagues finding large collection of butchered (for human consumption) turtles at a rural dump site. The species was identified as the protected Suwannee Cooter. This is a Species of Special Concern listed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. This find illustrated a harvest that surely exceeded the allowable take for this species. The purpose of the project was to show that this type of exploitation still exists with Florida turtles and also to describe why this is not acceptable for healthy turtle populations.

Turtles require many years (10-20) to reach maturity and their whole reproductive strategy is to reproduce as much as possible for as long as possible. Many turtles live to be 50+ years of age. It is mostly the large females that are removed as food…larger turtle=more meat. So in effect, you are removing the most important breeders from the population and the population can crash. We compare demographic data from the dump site specimens to that of the most studied population in Rainbow River.

We also make recommendations in the paper for the FFWCC to consider as additional protection for Florida’s turtles. At the time of the paper going to press, these recommendations and others were being implemented by the FFWCC due to other reasons. In July 2009 the FFWCC issued a final rule on freshwater turtle take that is the most restrictive and comprehensive conservation measure for freshwater turtles in the country.”

Thanks for your work on this Tim. Hopefully, it will affect some change!

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