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Turtle Troubles Catch Eyes Of State Lawmakers

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The Asian food market has put a huge dent in the turtle population in North Carolina, but that will soon change. It is now against the law to harvest several species of turtles.

Turtle expert Alvin Braswell said people have been trapping and eating snapping turtles for years.

"They don't like to be messed with," he said.

However in the past few years, trappers have targeted other turtles.

"We've had a large increase in the commercial turtle harvest going in North Carolina over the last three years -- an increase of about 5,000 percent," Braswell said. "It's primarily the Asian food trade and some pet trade."

As a result, a new law takes aim at commerical trappers harvesting several species. The problem is turtles are notoriously slow in everything they do, including reproduction.

"Turtles take a long time to grow and mature," Braswell said.

Braswell said he believes the new law will protect the turtles and give them a chance at a comeback.

"You don't want to let things get so bad that you have to list them as endangered or threatened before you have some protection coming in on them," he said.

Violation of the new turtle trapping law is a misdemeanor. First offenders face a $25 fine plus court costs.


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