Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, July 18, 2018


Elise Bennett, (727) 755-6950,

Arkansas Commission to Consider End to Unlimited Turtle Trapping

Trapping Ban Would Save Thousands of Wild Turtles Each Year

BATESVILLE, Ark.— The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will decide Thursday whether to ban the unlimited commercial trapping of wild turtles in the state in response to a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and several Arkansas environmental groups and citizens.

Arkansas currently allows turtle trappers to take wild turtles in unlimited numbers from waters across roughly half the state, including the entirety of the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers.

According to self-reporting by Arkansas trappers, more than 1.3 million wild turtles were trapped from Arkansas’ waters from 2004 to 2017, with 126,381 turtles taken just from 2014 to 2016. Most trapped turtles were large, reproductively mature animals crucial to sustaining healthy wild populations.

“The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has a historic opportunity to protect the state’s struggling freshwater turtles from unlimited trapping,” said Elise Bennett, an attorney at the Center. “Scientists agree that commercial trapping harms turtle populations. We hope commissioners do the right thing and propose an end to this cruel, environmentally destructive practice.”
What: Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Meeting

Who: Elise Bennett, reptile and amphibian staff attorney at the Center, will be on hand for comment.

When: Thursday, July 19 at 10 a.m.

Where: Batesville Community Center and Aquatics, 1420 20th Street, Batesville, AR 72501

Scientists have repeatedly documented that freshwater turtles cannot sustain any significant level of wild collection without population-level impacts and declines. If Arkansas bans collections, it would join a growing number of states preserving important wildlife and natural resources.

In February Missouri banned commercial turtle trapping, and in March Texas proposed a ban. In 2017 New York ended commercial collection of diamondback turtles, Nevada halted commercial reptile collection, and Iowa reined in trapping with new harvest limits. Alabama and Florida have banned commercial turtle trapping, and Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina have strong limits in place.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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