Red Eared Sliders, Religious Ceremonies Threatening Native CA Turtles

Does California need a ban on certain turtles?

Some scientists and animal advocates think so.

Greg Pauley at the Natural History Center in Los Angeles County says the Red Eared Slider Turtle is taking over waterways in California, forcing out the native Western Pond Turtle. However, he says you shouldn't blame the turtles, since he believes this is a people problem.

"The turtles we see getting dumped into urban waterways are these really common pet trade turtles, and the single most common one is the Red Eared Slider, which is native to areas in northeastern Mexico, but is now the most widespread turtle species in the world," Pauley said.

Scientist Max Lambert, at U.C Berkeley says the Red Eared Slider is also being dumped during religious ceremonies.

"There is a Buddhist and Taoist ceremony called fangsheng or life release, where you kind of accrue some karma for yourself by releasing animals into the wild. Because Sliders are so cheap in pet stores, a lot of people in the communities have relied on Sliders as the animals they release," Lambert explained.

The Red Eared Sliders are also easily purchased at Asian markets and county fairs, then dumped in waterways because people don't realize they can grow to the size of a large dinner plate.

Pauley is calling for a ban on the Red Eared Slider Turtle, saying they're a threat to California's native turtles.

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