Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

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Bryan Hamilton
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Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by Bryan Hamilton » October 27th, 2017, 3:02 pm

As Asian turtle populations have crashed, China has increasingly turned to international import to meet
domestic demand, which has increased pressure on global turtle populations. Snapping turtles (Chelydra
serpentina) are being harvested in unprecedented numbers in the United States (US) to meet the needs
of this international market. Here we report US snapping turtle live export from 1999 to 2013, and for
the first time test the effectiveness of size limits in reducing commercial harvest numbers. Over three
million live snapping turtles from farm and wild caught stock were exported from the US to Asia in
2012–14 alone. Increases in the export of wild caught snapping turtles to over 200,000 individuals in
2012 and 2014, compared to under 50,000 in other years, may indicate that farms are becoming unable
to keep up with increasing demand. Annual harvest pressure at the state level increased linearly from
1998 to 2013, mirroring trends in federal export over the same time period. Our model estimates that
size-limits were effective at reducing harvest by 30–87% in years with high harvest pressure. However,
the majority of size limit regulations result in the removal of larger breeding adults, which has been
shown to be detrimental to long term population viability. Regulatory approaches dedicated to the long
term management of this iconic species will need to balance the short term gains, in the form of reduced
harvest rates, with long term population viability.

https://www.researchgate.net/publicatio ... ng_harvest

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by Bryan Hamilton » October 27th, 2017, 3:08 pm

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stlouisdude
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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by stlouisdude » October 27th, 2017, 10:26 pm

I wonder how they determined it takes 17 years for a snapping turtle to be sexually mature and how much sooner would they mature say in the southern USA which would seem a much more ideal place to locate farms?

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by Bryan Hamilton » October 28th, 2017, 9:23 am

That's a good question. I think you're on to something with the latitudinal variation.....

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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by chris_mcmartin » October 28th, 2017, 4:44 pm

How many snapping turtle farms are in existence? There must be at least some. Sounds like an enterprising person could get a rotating schedule of maturing turtles to produce a practically-guaranteed number of offspring every year, much like monoculture (for better or worse) plots of pine trees produce harvestable lumber annually. I wonder if the export markets would favor sustainably-farmed turtles over indiscriminate wild collection.

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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by stlouisdude » October 29th, 2017, 8:27 am

Chris, that is what I am thinking. I should hope our government will not allow the ongoing harvest for export to china without requiring a certain percentage come from legitimate farming operations. Especially since snapping turtles are one of the few species our own citizens utilize and should receive priority over foriegn needs imo. The only problem is if the price becomes too high china might just source the turtles somewhere else and move the problem to a country even less able to properly balance the situation.

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WSTREPS
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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by WSTREPS » October 29th, 2017, 11:30 am

The author's did no live snapping turtle research of their own. They don't have a clue if any of the biological information is accurate or not. Its all "modeling" based on speculative numbers.

Love that little Bill Nye science chart, lets compare the reproductive and recruitment rate of large mammals to turtles. Look at all the deer but the turtles after 17 years don't have any babies. That's why you can kill lots of deer and they will by ok. But the turtles, they grow to slow. They will get wiped out. That is how its made to look.

Fact: True it can take 17 years for sexual maturity to be reached at high latitudes BUT nobody is collecting snapping turtles from the icy clear mountain lakes of upstate NY or frigid Ontario Canada(where that date was derived). Almost all are collected from states with relatively mild winters where maturity is about 4yrs. The authors are aware of this but do not reference it on their chart. Why?

The chart states that up to 1400 eggs need to be laid before one turtle reaches maturity. In the paper the authors state that at the lowest survival rate is 6%. Snaps typically lay 35 eggs, 6% would be two out of every 35 at the lowest. 6% of 1400 is 84 not 1 as the chart misleadingly implies. Why?

The farms do pretty good. 2012-2014, About 3 million total were farmed in the US and exported. Wild caught exports made up about 6.67% of the total number exported. Aprox. half of this percentage spike was made up of female's to be used by Asian turtle farms to increase breeding stock. The author's did not include the drop off in WC exports in 2015, and continuing decreasing tread in 2016. Why?


Ernie Eison

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by Bryan Hamilton » October 29th, 2017, 12:12 pm

Hi Ernie-roo,

Welcome to the party. I appreciate the wonderful mix of lies and half truths you sprinkle in with your responses. Why?

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WSTREPS
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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by WSTREPS » October 29th, 2017, 1:13 pm

Welcome to the party. I appreciate the wonderful mix of lies and half truths you sprinkle in with your responses. Why?

Its a shame threads are diverted in this manor. But once again a trolling post by Bryan Hamilton. To this my response is a simple one. You make the accusation now back it up. Provide a demonstrable instance where I have ever lied. Below a link to all my post. Go for it A-hole.

http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/sea ... =egosearch

Ernie Eison

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by Bryan Hamilton » October 29th, 2017, 1:35 pm

The troll has become the trolled...
when trolls are trolled....
My view from under the bridge....

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WSTREPS
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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by WSTREPS » October 30th, 2017, 5:37 am

In the papers abstract (the only thing Wildlife legislator's ever read) is a chart containing information that is exceptionally misleading in context. Comparing large mammalian reproduction and recruitment to reptiles. It creates a visual that to the uninformed (Wildlife legislator's) appears scientific. Its become a common technique.

On this chart biological information it is stated that the turtles take an extraordinarily long time to mature(17yrs). No reference is made to the fact that this number involves isolated and extreme circumstances. That 17ys is roughly 3 or 4 times the average length of time to maturity.

The chart states that 1 out of 1400 eggs laid by a female snapping turtle will make it to adulthood. That this might take up to 50yrs to accomplish. With no reference as to how that number was calculated. No mention that the research shows that the low end survival rate for snapping turtles is 6%, that females reproduce annually and lay on average 25 to 55 eggs, typically around 35 but up to 80 with a survivorship on the low end of 6% .

Why did the authors of this paper (Stephanie A. Zimmer-Shaffer, Jeffrey T. Briggler, and Joshua J. Millspaugh) choose to highlight such a strange and misleading chart filled with misleading statistic's that they researched and know are misplaced in context. Can anyone explain this ?

Ernie Eison

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by Bryan Hamilton » October 30th, 2017, 7:07 am

The chart was not part of the abstract or the paper. Sorry for the misunderstanding. I thought the chart was really interesting so I added it. Its entirely separate from the paper.

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by Bryan Hamilton » October 30th, 2017, 8:46 am

Regarding average age to maturity, what scale are we talking about? In Ontario, average age to maturity is 17 years.

In Florida, perhaps its 3-4 years. Average age is only relevant to the scale of management. In other words, turtles in Ontario can't be managed the same way as in Florida or they would go extinct.

There is a ton of research on commercial harvest of turtles in the United States. We pretty much have it figured out. Jeff Boundy, who posts here sometimes, published some of the papers. Check them out, they are very good.

Ernie, I feel like you either misinformed with some of your statements (such as average age) or being deliberately misleading. I'm open to discussion but I feel like your questions are straw men and you're trying to somehow "win" rather than learn.

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WSTREPS
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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by WSTREPS » October 30th, 2017, 9:32 am

Regarding average age to maturity, what scale are we talking about? In Ontario, average age to maturity is 17 years.......
Go back and read what I said. It was crystal clear. The only paper's by Jeff I know of involve alligator snapping turtles, Macrochelys temminckii this subject pertains to common snapping turtles, Chelydra serpentine.

The Stephanie A. Zimmer-Shaffer, Jeffrey T. Briggler, and Joshua J. Millspaugh paper does state that Snapping turtles take as long as 18 years to reach sexual maturity at high latitudes. But they do not mention that this is an anomaly that is not representative of the species across the majority of its range or is a fair representative of the population's that this paper pertains to. It should also be noted that as latitude increases so does the number of eggs laid but clutch's are laid less frequently.

The authors implicated the poor practice of mix and matching species. Using example's such as pig-nosed turtles, Carettochelys insculpta and the big-headed turtle , Platysternon megacephalum in making comparisons to common snapping turtles, What?

They did include geographical information, snaps are found in 75% of the US and across lower Canada. This does not include introduced populations around the globe. But the turtles remarkable adaptability was not taken into account. The fact common snapping turtles are arguably the most durable and adaptable turtle species the world has ever known. A species that can and does inhabit virtually any place that has a sustained water source.

The authors ( Stephanie A. Zimmer-Shaffer, Jeffrey T. Briggler, and Joshua J. Millspaugh ) used the Bayesian inference to analyze the effect of minimum size limit regulations across a range of commercial harvest pressures. A plug and play method of analytical analysis that the authors predicated on this,
The harvest data set used in our analysis, while the most comprehensive to date on the subject, has limitations. The harvest data were collected from multiple agencies and the reporting was uncoordinated and fragmented.

we were forced to make certain accommodations
The authors of this paper maybe are skilled mathematician's but they are poor biologist. They plugged numbers of unknown certainty into a formula to form what they considered a viable regulatory option.

Ernie Eison

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by Bryan Hamilton » October 30th, 2017, 9:42 am

The authors of this paper maybe are skilled mathematician's but they are poor biologist.
Ok Ernie-roo. You win. The paper is garbage and the biologists suck. You are right. The peer reviewed paper is wrong and so deeply flawed we should roll back any rules and regulations on anything and everything. Thanks for your service.

Are you going to address the fact that you wrongly misinterpreted the graphic to the authors of the paper and accused them of being deliberately misleading?

Are you being paid to post here? Who are you working for?

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by Bryan Hamilton » October 30th, 2017, 9:56 am

WSTREPS wrote:Its a shame threads are diverted in this manor. But once again a trolling post by Bryan Hamilton. To this my response is a simple one. You make the accusation now back it up. Provide a demonstrable instance where I have ever lied. Below a link to all my post. Go for it A-hole.

http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/sea ... =egosearch
That link is actually to all my posts....

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WSTREPS
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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by WSTREPS » October 30th, 2017, 2:33 pm

True, I did mistakenly attribute the graphic posted by Bryan Hamilton to the Stephanie A. Zimmer-Shaffer, Jeffrey T. Briggler, and Joshua J. Millspaugh paper but as explained they did make use of the misplacing information found on that graphic in their work. My criticisms and reasoning behind that graphic still stand in terms of its assemblage and use. The chart was first created by something called the OMNR Black Bear Technical Team based on black bear researcher George Kolenoskys "original" idea. Several yrs later, the Ontario Muti-Species Turtle Recovery team took it upon themselves to use this graphic and add the turtle column and unqualified comments to the chart. Its further proof of the widespread misuse of science as a political tool.

My comments regarding this merry band of modelers, Stephanie A. Zimmer-Shaffer, Jeffrey T. Briggler, and Joshua J. Millspaugh paper sans the graph also stand. I would urge anyone with an opposing view to the biological information I posted or anyone that question's what I stated about the authors method's to respond with supporting evidence.
That link is actually to all my posts....
The link I posted http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/sea ... osearchwas was found by using the view your post option on the user control panel. It connects to all the existing threads that I have posted on. I challenge one and all to produce a lie. As Bryan Hamilton claims. As for Bryan Hamiltons repetitive comment about someone paying me to post. To this goofy accusation. Again this is an open invitation to anyone who might support this idea. Provide some insight as to who you think might pay me to post on a lightly viewed forum and why.

Ernie Eison
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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by Jeff » October 31st, 2017, 5:39 am

The reported numbers of wild-caught turtles that leave the United States are false due to reporting requirements on export forms. All farm-raised hatchling turtles that leave Louisiana, typically around a million per year, are required to be reported as "W" for wild-caught.

The Federal export form (3177) allows a captive-raised status for farmed hatchlings. However, CITES export has a much higher requirement for captive-raised status (I believe progeny from F2 captives). Snapping Turtles are now a CITES species, so it is difficult for farmers to achieve a captive vs. wild rating for their hatchlings, even if they are no longer removing breeders from the wild.

Unfortunately, the CITES requirement eliminates the means to determine how many turtles are truly wild-caught, and thus confounds management efforts.

Jeff

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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by chris_mcmartin » October 31st, 2017, 1:10 pm

Jeff wrote:The reported numbers of wild-caught turtles that leave the United States are false due to reporting requirements on export forms. All farm-raised hatchling turtles that leave Louisiana, typically around a million per year, are required to be reported as "W" for wild-caught.
Sounds like perhaps there is not a wild-population crisis, but a reporting/paperwork crisis. Is there a mechanism to propose changing the forms to better reflect the animals' source and therefore greatly improve management of the species (and others)? Seems like the farmers would be all about calling their respective Congressmen to help make it happen.

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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by Kelly Mc » October 31st, 2017, 4:52 pm

They dont want the scrutiny. Its a nasty business.

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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by WSTREPS » November 1st, 2017, 5:59 am

Sounds like perhaps there is not a wild-population crisis, but a reporting/paperwork crisis. Is there a mechanism to propose changing the forms to better reflect the animals' source and therefore greatly improve management of the species (and others)? Seems like the farmers would be all about calling their respective Congressmen to help make it happen.
Its always a paperwork crisis especially when it comes to Cites. I don't think the farmers or trappers would have any problem with getting the numbers right, most likely the truth will benefit them.
What has been repeatedly seen in the history of theses types of issues, its always the trade that is willing to work for a smart solution.

Not that anyone will actually take the time to read it. But here's a link to a research paper by Jeff Boundy. This paper pertains to alligator snapping turtles but it would be a far fetched notion to think that the widespread and versatile common snapping turtle could be more imperiled then its giant cousin. I would be interested to hear if Jeff has any comments on the current state of Louisiana's turtle populations.

Trapping Survey Results for the Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) in Southeastern Louisiana, with Comments on Exploitation

https://www.researchgate.net/publicatio ... ploitation

Recently a petition against the commercial collection of turtles was filed in Louisiana . More fun curtesy of the Sue and settle biological ambulance chasers at the CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY. The staff is comprised almost entirely of young politically motivated lawyers. Nothing says environmental and scientific credibility like young politically motivated lawyers. Yeeeaaahhh.

Ernie Eison

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by Kelly Mc » November 1st, 2017, 7:52 am

How wonderful it is for the business of trinket pets and fetish meats and dried chuckwalla magic to have you as its champion on a herp interest site.

WSTREPS wrote: What has been repeatedly seen in the history of theses types of issues, its always the trade that is willing to work for a smart solution.

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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by Jeff » November 1st, 2017, 10:01 am

Is there a mechanism to propose changing the forms to better reflect the animals' source and therefore greatly improve management of the species (and others)? Seems like the farmers would be all about calling their respective Congressmen to help make it happen.
Louisiana turtle farmers have been working with their congressional representatives since the 1975 USDA ban on domestic sale of hatchlings. That obstacle seemed to have been cleared via development in the 1980s of the Siebeling Method of producing salmonella-free turtles. However, the USDA persistently refused to lift the ban for Louisiana-produced turtles, and LA turtle formers considered the battle lost as of last year.

During the last bout of congressional hearings, the number of licensed farms declined from about 80 in 2004 to a current 8.

The problem with reporting categories originated with listing of a number a species on CITES since the early 2000s. Farmers had no means of meeting the "F2 produce" requirement for CITES exports as "farmed", and an agreement was made with the USFWS that all of their hatchlings would be exported as "wild." The goal of the farmers was simply to be able to export their turtles (obtain a CITES permit file), and they had little interest in dwelling on whether or not a "W" or "C" went with the paperwork.

The issue of coding with CITES was revisited in 2015 by the state of Louisiana, but the resolution of the matter would require all turtle farms to purge their breeding stock, and through close scrutiny of the FWS, spend some years (decades) producing F2 breeders in closed systems.

It is unfortunate that the farmers decided last year to do away with the Siebeling method so that their exports could bypass the strict testing requirements. The Siebeling protocols needed to be met by all Louisiana turtle farmers in order to receive an annual license from the State Veterinarian. In fact, their facilities were as odorless and antiseptic as a veterinary clinic.

I hope this has answered some of the questions and comments.

Jeff

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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by chris_mcmartin » November 2nd, 2017, 8:06 am

Jeff wrote:I hope this has answered some of the questions and comments.
It did for me. Disappointing information but good to know nonetheless.

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Re: Commercial harvest and export of snapping turtles

Post by Bryan Hamilton » November 7th, 2017, 12:10 pm

Hey Ernie. I read the paper. Thanks for the link! :thumb:

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