The proposal, put out by USARK Florida for commercial breeding of the species would have reduced pressure on wild populations.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has denied a proposal to captive breed diamondback terrapins. The proposal, put out by USARK Florida for commercial breeding of the species would have reduced pressure on wild populations that are illegally taken from the wild. Another factor leading to the decline of this species is due to the fact that more than 50 percent of the turtle’s native habitat has been lost due to climate change and development.
The FWC ruled November 30 to deny the request for captive breeding of the diamondback terrapin.
“(FWC) staff were able to do an hour long presentation, maybe even longer, and the whole thing seemed to be equating turtle breeders with poachers and smugglers and that was the message repeated through images over and over and contained materially false information. Melissa Tucker said terrapin breeding has been banned since 2006 and that is simply not true,” Daniel Parker of USARK Florida said in a video post on Instagram with USARK President Phil Goss. “Melissa Tucker was spreading misinformation and that is not the first time she has been dishonest with us. It seems that we are at a point with staff that they are not going to work with us,” Parker said.
“The presentation that (FWC) staff presented to the commission painted every reptile person in America and in the United States as an illegal black market poacher. (The presentation) “said nothing about responsible shipping, nothing about responsible care, nothing about responsible breeding. . . it actually painted us as a bunch of people who duct tape turtles and tortoises and that’s how we ship them. It was ghastly, it was horrible, it was rubbish, it was garbage,” USARK President Phil Goss said. “We didn’t get the hour pitch and put up slides like staff did and it’s a shame that that is what the commissioner saw instead of the truth,” Goss said.
The captive breeding proposal had a lot of positives, including the relieving of pressure on wild populations of the diamondback terrapin, and support from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Aquaculture Director Portia Sapp, who in September 2022 said the department would be willing to administer a terrapin breeding program which would not require the FWC to incur any additional administrative costs. The FDACS currently oversees breeding programs of other turtle farmers in the state.
Diamondback Terrapin Information
The diamondback terrapin is a beautiful turtle known for the diamond-like patterns on its carapace. The medium-sized turtles are found in coastal brackish and saltwater marshes in the southeastern and eastern United States, from Texas to most of the West and East coast of Florida, all the way up to Massachusetts. The diamondback terrapin is threatened by habitat destruction, the rise in sea levels, road mortality, crab traps predation and poaching.