New York should not allow trapping of snapping turtles

There is an alarming bill on the table right now in the State Senate that would legalize the trapping of snapping turtles – the state reptile of New York.

It’s already legal to take these animals with shotgun or longbow. However, extending the law to include trapping puts this species at particular risk of being overharvested. They are an important part of our ecosystem and greatly affected by pollution, habitat destruction and roadway accidents. This bill may also lead to increased poaching and illegal trafficking in Asia.

Snapping turtles have long been harvested for food, even though consuming them is considered unhealthy. According to the State Department of Health, “Women of childbearing age, infants and children under the age of 15 should avoid eating snapping turtles or soups made with their meat.”

The bill would allow inexperienced individuals to take snapping turtles by hand to “dispose” of them. As a New York State licensed wildlife rehabilitator, the thought of this makes me cringe. Snapping turtles, normally docile, are large, bulky and fast if they feel threatened, with very long necks and powerful beak-like mouths capable of snapping closed in a split second. If people attempt to take snapping turtles by hand, they are in danger of being severely injured. This is one of the reasons why nuisance wildlife control officers exist in this state.

This scientifically flawed legislation needs to be defeated. New York should follow the lead of other states and limit the harvest of freshwater turtles instead of creating opportunities to kill more of them.

Christine Hutten

North Tonawanda