NRP Urges Parents to Say “Yes” to Ninja Turtles, “No” to Baby Turtles
With only days before the release of the fifth installment in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie series, the Maryland Natural Resources Police is urging parents to buy young Ninja fans action figures rather than live baby turtles.
“Hundreds of thousands of small turtles have been purchased by well-meaning parents nationwide since the first movie premiered in 1990. But these tiny animals aren’t toys and they require a commitment to keep them healthy and safe,” said NRP Cpl. Michael Lathroum.
Organizations such as American Tortoise Rescue and Mid-Atlantic Turtle and Tortoise Society note that when interest wanes, the baby turtles ─ mostly red-eared sliders from turtle farms down south ─ are tossed outside, flushed down the toilet or abandoned at nature centers and wildlife rescue centers. The estimated fatality rate is 90 percent.
A similar problem arose when children asked for spotted puppies after the release of the movie 101 Dalmatians.
NRP officers are already receiving complaints this summer of small turtles being sold at street fairs and festivals.
Federal law prohibits the sale of turtles smaller than 4-inches around or captured in the wild. In addition, turtles carry salmonella, which can infect children, people on chemotherapy and those with immune deficiency diseases.
“These are wonderful creatures. They are symbols of a healthy wetland,” said Jonathan McKnight, associate director of DNR’s Natural Heritage Program. “But if you want to see a turtle, go outside and see them in the wild.”