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Stepping In To Help Snapping Turtles

The Hartford Courant

Admit it: Snapping turtles aren't the most cuddly creatures. But the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is right to want to protect them in the state. Huggable or not, they must not be hunted to extinction here.

At the moment, trapping and killing snapping turtles, or taking their eggs, is not regulated in Connecticut; it's a free-for-all. Under a proposal now before the Legislative Review Committee, that would change.

Turtle-taking season would be limited to the period from July 15 to Sept. 30. There would be a daily bag limit of five adult turtles and a seasonal limit of 30 per hunter. All turtle eggs must be left undisturbed.

The rules, which ought to pass the review process, are needed because snappers' future in the state is in doubt. Considered a nuisance in the past, the turtles are now known to be an important part of a wetland environment.

The problem is that their lives are so tenuous.

Hatchlings take at least 10 years to reach maturity, and they are threatened not only by hunters but by other animals, drivers and boaters. Habitat loss is also a factor. According to the state wildlife biologist, only one turtle egg in 1,445 makes it to a point where it is able to reproduce. Any adult deaths, therefore, have a large impact on the entire population.

According to the DEEP, more turtle trappers from out of state are coming here for their catch, due in part to an increased global market for them as food.

Snappers, which can be found in all Connecticut towns, have been living here since prehistoric times. The DEEP should be commended for helping to make sure they don't make a permanent exit in our time.

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