FWC Reminds Public of Closed Seasons on Freshwater Turtles and Urges Everyone to Report Violators

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds people of the closed seasons for harvesting river cooters and their eggs from April 15 to July 31 and soft-shell turtles and their eggs from May 1 to July 31. River cooters and soft-shell turtles are the most frequently harvested of all Florida turtle species.

The FWC has received information that prices for freshwater turtles and their meat have been increasing, which may cause the black market for illegally harvested, or poached, turtles to rise. 

Anticipated tighter restrictions on harvesting may have caused the increase in turtle prices – nearly twice what they typically have been. The FWC is reconsidering rules on freshwater turtle harvesting after receiving information people were removing hundreds of freshwater turtles at a time. The more valuable turtles and turtle meat may be incentive enough for some to break the law and harvest turtles out of season.

The FWC is urging the public to immediately report anyone catching and keeping river cooters or soft-shell turtles this time of year.

To report violations of freshwater turtle regulations or any other fish and wildlife law violations, call the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922). For guidelines on freshwater turtle restrictions, visit MyFWC.com/codebook.