Several lies are told to help motivate people into participating in the Asian turtle industry. Below are some of the lies told by a Texas turtle dealer known as Bayou Bob Popplewell at one of his recruitment seminars. The seminars are an attempt to gather participants into a pyramid scheme or "co-op". Participants pay $250 to join and receive traps and instructions on how to set them, store turtles and where to deliver the animals after they are caught. The following are some of the most glaring and inaccurate statements told to participants of these events:
"This is a vast renewable resource that we can harvest and manage wisely" This is a quote from Popplewell.
The problem with this is the truth, the trapping methods employed are indescriminate and catch virtually every species of aquatic turtle including species prohibited from commercial trade. Another important consideration is the activity of the trappers interupts the nesting season of virtually all aquatic turtles in Texas. Female freshwater turtles come to shore to lay their eggs at least three times per year from April to July. Most of the eggs are consumed by predators, this is why they must produce frequent egg clutches. There is no season for hunting turtles therefore there is no regulation to allow the resource to renew itself. Females take 5-10 years to reach maturity before they can reproduce.
"Turtles are vermin" Another quote from Popplewell
Untrue. Aquatic turtles are often indicators of the health of a body of water and are beneficial to lakes, ponds, creeks and rivers. They consume considerable amounts of aquatic vegetation, insects including mosquitoes and decomposing material.
In 2007 some 170,000 turtles were reported to have been exported from Texas to Asian food markets. From 1995-2005 a reported 1,000,000 were sent out of our state. Given the rate of exploitation Texas turtles may face a similar fate as the buffalo that once roamed the plains of the lone star state.
Here are some links to various publications regarding the trade in Texas turtles: