South Carolina Bill Aims to Protect the State's Turtles, other Reptiles & Amphibians

Eastern Box Turtles are one of 12 species of native South Carolina turtle that will benefit from the passing of this new legislation. Photo credit: Richard Coldiron

“Senate Bill 885 will help protect turtles from exploitation in South Carolina but, more importantly, effectively closes a loophole that fosters the illegal collection of protected turtle species in surrounding states,” said Rick Hudson, president of the Turtle Survival Alliance, a global turtle conservation organization based in Charleston, S.C. “The southeastern United States, including South Carolina, is the world’s leading turtle diversity hotspot with at least 20 species of turtles and one tortoise calling South Carolina home. The state is critically important to the survival of these ancient creatures, but they have increasingly come under threat due to poaching for the global wildlife trade. This natural heritage belongs to all South Carolinians, not just those who aim to profit from it for personal gain.”

Senate Bill 885 addresses several issues with regard to the state's native reptiles and amphibians. At the Turtle Survival Alliance we see this amendment as the most important to protecting our home state's beloved turtles: “Except as otherwise provided in this title, it is unlawful for a person to sell, purchase, trade, exchange, barter, export, ship, transfer the possession of, re-home, remove, or attempt to remove from this State any native reptile or amphibian species, including parts, products, eggs, offspring, and derivatives thereof. The department may provide exemptions to this section by regulation.” In effect, this bill will continue to allow South Carolinians to possess and experience our state’s native reptiles and amphibians at the discretion of our Department of Natural Resources, while protecting them from commercial exploitation.