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TPWD News Release — Aug. 30, 2008

TPWD Biologists Seek Info on Turtle Collections as Commission Amends Prohibited Nongame Regs

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission acted Aug. 21 on staff recommendations to amend regulations on prohibited nongame species.

Among the changes approved by commissioners:

 "These are relatively minor changes to rules that were established in October 2007," said Matt Wagner, Ph.D., TPWD’s Wildlife Diversity Program director. "Among other things, the rules created a ‘white list’ of nongame wildlife legal for commercial collection and sale under the proper permit. Conversely, all nongame species not on the ‘white list’ are prohibited from commercial collection in the wild."

According to Wagner, TPWD biologists are most interested in hearing from collectors who keep box turtles and other prohibited nongame.

"It appears box turtles are the most common of the prohibited species, and some of the collections are pretty significant," he said. "We want to know who those folks are and what they have in possession."

Wagner pointed-out that contacting the department during the "grandfather" period can actually help turtle owners.

"We understand that collections change over time, especially for people who are breeding these animals," Wagner said. "But sometime down the road, if a collector gets checked by a game warden and the game warden contacts us, we can say, ‘We have a record of that. This person has made a good-faith effort to comply with our regulations.’"

Wagner said TPWD biologists also are conducting several studies on turtles; one with Texas A&M University, reconciling TPWD export records of nongame species with U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service records; one with the Fort Worth Zoo, assessing at turtle populations in the Rio Grande and the Brazos River; and a 5-year project with Texas State University designed to assess the effect of commercial turtle harvests on private waters in several areas of the state.

Additionally, the TPWD Wildlife Diversity Program has recently published a turtle identification tool called "Texas Turtle Regulations," available on the department’s Web site.

For additional information about prohibited nongame and the so-called ‘white listed’ species, contact Jennifer Brennan at


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