The Endangered Species Act of 1973 was implemented with the purpose of protecting Threatened and Endangered Plants Wildlife, not only native, but non-native, as well. Whether it meets this purpose is a frequently debated topic. There are number of aspects of this Act that apply to the hobby of keeping turtles and private efforts toward conservation. The long-term purpose of the ESA is to eventually be able to remove the listed species because a restoration program has returned the species to levels where they are not threatened or endangered. In addition to the parts of the Act that prohibit activities of keepers and breeders, there are parts which impact landowners, as well. Here we will focus on the impacts to turtles and their keepers.
Import and Export of any listed wildlife
Take of wild specimens
Interstate and Foreign Commerce or Sale
Impact on Turtle Keepers
The ESA (Endangered Species Act) impacts turtle keepers in the prohibitions listed above. The prohibition hardest on breeders is the inability to participate in interstate commerce (which includes trade or barter) to exchange offspring with other breeders with the goals of maintaining the genetic quality of the colony and moving surplus offspring to keepers desiring to work with the species. Its greatest impact is on the ability of private keepers to help extend the existence of these endangered and threatened species and return them to the wild through breeding and head-start programs. Zoos and Aquariums have it a little easier. They can transfer specimens between each other and recognized programs sponsored by a zoo, aquarium or the government. Permits may be granted to participate in these prohibited activities, however, they are extremely difficult to obtain for many species, especially for species native to the U.S.
For those that do not already possess these species, it is exceptionally difficult to acquire them because of the same prohibitions. Because breeders of these species exist in few states, those outside those states are left with no real way to acquire ESA-listed animals, other than being lucky enough to have someone willing to give them as a documented gift. However, because the cost is so high, that is unusual.
Disclaimer: These links are posted mainly to provide the various opinions that exist on the Endangered Species Act. While we agree with some of the things in these links, we also disagree with some of the things in these links.
Turtle Taxonomy Working Group [van Dijk, P.P., Iverson, J.B., Rhodin, A.G.J., Shaffer, H.B., and Bour, R.]. 2014. Turtles of the World, 7th edition: Annotated Checklist of Taxonomy, Synonomy, Distribution with Maps, and Conservation Status. In: Rhodin, A.G.J., Pritchard, P.C.H., van Dijk, P.P., Saumure, R.A., Buhlmann, K.A., Iverson, J.B., and Mittermeier, R.A. (Eds.). Conservation Biology of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises: A Compilation Project of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group. Chelonian Research Monographs, No. 7, pp.000.329-000.478, doi:10.3854/crm.5.000.checklist.v7.2014, http://www.iucn-tftsg.org/checklist. Web. Jun. 2014.