The new year brings new protections for turtles in Minnesota as commercial harvesting is no longer allowed in the state.

What Turtles Are Protected?

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, a new law in Minnesota that went into effect on January 1st will protect western painted turtles and snapping turtles from commercial harvest, these turtles can be raised for commercial uses with an aquaculture license with a turtle endorsement.

Anglers will also need to make some adjustments, there is a new recreational turtle license required to harvest turtles using angling gear like hook and line, landing nets, and gaff hooks. Traps will no longer be allowed and those 16 and under are not required to get a recreational turtle license, the MN DNR says that they "may still collect turtles for turtle races."

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The new recreational turtle license is $25 and is available now through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources electronic license system. More information about the recreational license can be found here.

Why The New Law?

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says that these changes will help the health of the turtle population in the state by addressing habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution, and overharvesting.

"Due to the life history characteristics of turtles — that they are long-lived and slow growing — even low levels of increased mortality can result in declining populations, especially in northern latitudes that have short growing seasons," the MN DNR said in a press release.

According to the Minnesota Zoo, there are nine species of freshwater turtles in Minnesota, of those nine two are listed as threatened, Blanding’s and wood turtles.

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