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Monday, December 19, 2011 - 4:14am

Georgia Turtle Business Is Booming

Asia’s taste for one Georgia commodity is leading to restrictions on its harvest. New rules will keep turtles from leaving the state.

Georgia trappers ship live, freshwater turtles to Asia where people eat them, use them in medicine, or keep them as pets. In 2010 lawmakers passed legislation requiring the Department of Natural Resources come up with new rules limiting the commercial turtle harvest.

Mike Harris with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is working on those rules. He says right now trappers can take as many freshwater turtles as they can catch. But turtles can’t reproduce fast enough to keep up.

“We felt like it was important to get some regulations in place so that we could monitor the harvest and also have some limits on the take of turtles from the wild.”

Those new limits range from 100 to 1,000 turtles a year depending on the species. The new rules are slated to go into effect at the end of January.