More than 40 turtles seized from sellers in Virginia bust, officials say

RICHMOND, Va. — Wildlife officials in Virginia seized more than 40 turtles in a recent crackdown on the illegal sale of the reptiles, authorities said this week.

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According to WRIC-TV, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources took to social media Tuesday to share the news.

“DWR Conservation Police officers coordinated with DWR Wildlife Division staff to seize a dozen red-eared sliders and eastern painted turtles, and 30 Mississippi map turtles from private and retail sellers,” the Facebook post read.

DWR Conservation Police Officers coordinated with DWR Wildlife Division staff to seize a dozen red-eared sliders and...

Posted by Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources on Tuesday, April 19, 2022

In Virginia, “it is unlawful to sell native or naturalized species” of turtles, except for snapping turtles, which “may be commercially harvested and sold with the appropriate permit,” the department wrote.

“Charging ‘adoption’ or ‘rehoming’ fees or any other form of barter is also unlawful,” the post read.

The red-eared slider, which is not native to Virginia, is among the 100 most invasive species worldwide, according to the department. The reptiles pose a threat to local wildlife by interbreeding with native turtles, such as the yellow-bellied slider, and spreading “trade-oriented diseases,” the department said.

The naturalized Mississippi map turtle has populations in Newport News and near Washington, D.C., the post added.

Although officials sent several of the young map turtles to zoos, the rest of the seized reptiles were euthanized because it is difficult to find homes that can provide adequate care, the department said.

“Because these turtles are relatively cheap to purchase, they are often treated as ‘disposable pets’ and either die from poor husbandry or are released into the wild after the owner is no longer willing or able to care for them,” the department wrote.