Last week during a joint meeting between the town council and the town’s advisory committee chairs, Marine Resources Task Force Chairman Steve Johnson updated the town council on the yellow-bellied slider turtles that are being sold on the island.
Johnson said he has not heard back from either the Teeki Hut, where the turtles were being sold, or Rob Howell (Ranger Rob) who’s been on a mission to end the sale of the turtles. He says after the turtles are sold to tourists and vactioners many of them are abandoned, left to die somewhere on the beach.
We wrote about the plight of the turtles in an earlier article and the towns attempt to pass an ordinance to forbid the sale of the small turtles.
In October, town attorney John Herin reported that FWC’s response to the proposed ordinance was that “ the authority of the town to regulate the sale of wildlife is preempted by FWC and therefore the town is without jurisdiction or power to enact this ordinance.”
It was also discovered that while the business had a permit from FWC there’s a federal FDA regulation limiting the sale of turtles less than 4 inches.
It was at that meeting that Howell agreed to work with a representative from Teeki Hut to provide an instructional video and other information to buyers of the turtles.
Ranger Rob was recently contacted and stated that he had in fact made a video to be played on a loop in the store to help educate people about not releasing the turtles in the local waterways and remind buyers they are a forever pet. He also provided a DVD player and pamphlets. He went on to say he was not sure if they were being utilized as his calls and texts have not been answered.
We reached out to a representative from the Teeki Hut asking if they have and are using the information but have not as yet heard back.
In the meantime, if you suspect a violation regarding the turtles FWC says call the Wildlife Alert Reward Program at 888-404-FWCC (3922). (https://myfwc.com/contact/wildlife-alert/)