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Why are non-permitted turtles still sold in San Francisco live food markets?

By Gary Bogue
Friday, April 22nd, 2011 at 6:58 am in Live Animal Markets, Turtles.

Florida softshell turtle. Photo by Flickr user john picken used under a Creative Commons License
softshell, florida, john picken

****Dear readers:
I’m off taking a break for a week. I’ll be back here in my blog on Monday, May 2. See you then!! /Gary

Dear readers:
My friend Eric Mills, Coordinator for ACTION FOR ANIMALS in Oakland, CA, sent the following email to the following people. I think it speaks for itself. I’m sure Eric (and thousands of dead and dying turtles and bullfrogs) would appreciate it if you add your own voice (and emails!) to this fight. The email addresses are below. Thanks for caring! Please send Eric a copy of any emails you send on this ( /Gary

Sent: Thu, 21 Apr 2011
April 21 (John Muir’s birthday, who’s doubtless rolling in his grave)

Greetings, all:
Well, the mayhem continues.  I just returned from another visit to the San Francisco live animal food markets.  Little has changed — except for the  worse, perhaps.

Freshwater (red-eared slider) turtle. Photo by Flickr user zevotron used under a Creative Commons License
turtle zevotron

I found four markets with NON-PERMITTED FLORIDA SOFTSHELL TURTLES, pretty much the same stores I reported to CalTIP last month for the same offense.  And most were the large breeding females (18″-20″), depleting the local populations whence they came.  I DID NOT SEE A SINGLE SPINY SOFTSHELL IN ANY OF THE MARKETS, THE ONLY SOFTSHELL TURTLE SPECIES FOR WHICH THE DEPARTMENT IS SUPPOSED TO BE ISSUING PERMITS. We’ve been told repeatedly over the years, by both the Commission and the Department, that import permits would be issued for ONLY TWO SPECIES OF TURTLES:  THE RED-EARED SLIDER, AND THE SPINY SOFTSHELL. Folks are not playing by the rules, either the Department or the merchants.

I find non-permitted turtles almost every time I visit these abattoirs.  Still being butchered while fully conscious, I might add.   Nothing ever changes (except DFG directors and commissioners)

As you know, I reported a half-dozen of these markets to CalTIP last month, and DFG confiscated 17 Florida softshell turtles from three markets.  Due to the fact that the Department is wildly inconsistent with the language of the permits, one Oakland market was allowed to keep its Florida softshells, while three markets in S.F. had their turtles confiscated.  According to the turtle rescue in Castro Valley, where these turtles were taken, all but four or five have since died.  They were all in terrible shape upon arrival, reportedly.  Curiously, I found ZERO turtles in the markets in either Oakland or San Francisco, only two days before the April 6-7 Commission meeting in Folsom. But they’re now back in force, after the heat was off.

So what’s a boy to do, pray?  The Department continues to ignore its mandate to protect the state’s natural resources, and the market sales continue unabated, both legal and illegal.  In my darker moments, I sometimes think that the only respite these pathetic creatures will ever get is when global warming reaches its peak and we’re all under water.  We’re on the verge of exterminating an entire family of animals, and for what?  Soup and Superstition.

Any remedies you might offer would be appreciated.  I remain convinced that ONLY a total and permanent ban on the importation, possession and sale of these non-natives will fix the problem.

Despairingly yours,
Eric Mills, coordinator, ACTION FOR ANIMALS, Oakland, California

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One Response to “Why are non-permitted turtles still sold in San Francisco live food markets?”

  1. Kris Says:

    Can you publish the name of the markets. The curried turtle is a delicacy I haven’t had since I was young and I would like to cook it for my children at least once in their lifetime.

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