Commentary: South Carolina Must Tighten State Laws to Protect Turtles

BY ELISE BENNETT (Center for Biological Diversity) and JORDAN GRAY (Turtle Survival Alliance)

Each year, tens of thousands of live turtles are stolen from America’s woodlands and waterways and shipped overseas as pets or for meat. And with lax laws against harvest, South Carolina is a haven for turtle snatchers.

State wildlife officials recently saved more than 200 eastern box turtles from traffickers in Chester County. Last year, a Holly Hill resident admitted to illegally smuggling protected turtles through South Carolina. And several more recent poaching cases have had ties to the state.

These incidents underscore South Carolina’s weak regulations, which fail to protect native turtles. It’s time for the state to safeguard these important and slow-reproducing animals, whose populations just can’t sustain this trapping.

Turtle smugglers target South Carolina to operate their illicit ventures because they know the rules are weak and difficult to enforce, so they can get away with it. Read the rest at The Post and Courier HERE.