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FWC commissioners vote to deny captive breeding of diamondback terrapins

FWC staff brought in law enforcement and an expert on global turtle trafficking to make the case against captive breeding of diamondback terrapins, while the majority of public commenters were for it.

Florida wildlife officials voted Wednesday to deny a proposal for captive breeding of diamondback terrapins, which are threatened by poaching for the domestic and overseas pet trade.

Advocates argued that commercial breeding would alleviate the pressure put on those illegally captured in the wild.

In addition to trafficking, their populations are also on the decline as more than 50% of their original habitat has been lost. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission expects that to continue to grow under climate change and increasing sea levels. Plus, they have been drowning in blue crab traps, although new rules for preventing that will go into effect March 2023.

Captive breeding of the species has been prohibited since 2006, and a ban on possessing them went into effect this year, with the exception of permits for pets before March or for scientific research to strengthen their conservation.

FWC staff successfully recommended Wednesday for regulations to remain the same.

Melissa Tucker, with the FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation, told commissioners during her presentation that captive breeding would actually cause more harm than good to diamondback terrapins.