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the press releases.
Tiny Water Turtles Blamed for Multi-State Outbreak of Salmonella
American Tortoise Rescue Celebrates World Turtle Day 2012 on May 23rd
Giant Sulcata Tortoises Overwhelm U.S. Rescues
Turtle Rescues "Drowning in Water Turtles
Friedman / Special to The Malibu Times
Malibu turtle and tortoise activist Susan Tellem thought she would have
reason to celebrate this year's World Turtle Day on May 23 because of the recent decision by the California Fish and Game
Commission to ban the importation of non-native turtles and frogs for the purpose of human consumption. But the commission
decided earlier this month to reconsider the ban after hearing from Asian-Americans in the state Legislature and the seafood
business who oppose the action because of what they said would be devastating cultural and economic impacts on the Asian-American
“After 16 years of trying to get this passed, we were finally thrilled,” said Tellem, who
was devastated by the news of the commission's decision to rehear the item.
Tellem said she has tried many angles
to get the ban implemented over the years, including, in her opinion, that the trade is inhumane and that most of the imported
animals carry diseases. She and her fellow activists finally won over the commission with the argument that the imported species
pose a threat to native animals if they are released into the wild. The Department of Fish and Game requires those who import
live frogs and turtles for human consumption to obtain permits on an annual basis. Under the policy change, they would be
allowed to continue to import the animals until their permits expire.
Earlier this month, six Asian-American legislators
sent a letter to the commission opposing the decision. They wrote that it “disproportionally targets Asian-American
“There are a number of dramatic effects that this decision will have on seafood markets
across the state,” the legislators wrote. “Turtles and frogs are a traditional cultural cuisine for many Chinese
and other Asian-American cultures. Many of the live food markets are owned and managed by first-generation immigrants.”
The state leaders pointed to the fact the decision does not cover the importation of non-native species to be sold
as pets, so the threat of the animals being released into the wild was not eliminated in their opinion.
of Asian-Americans involved in the seafood business came to the commission meeting on May 5 in Stockton to voice their opposition.
Henry Chung, a seafood distributor from San Francisco, said he was not aware of anybody who imports them for food releasing
the species into the wild.
“It will have a great economic impact and many jobs will be lost because the fish
market restaurants hire lots of people to do the job,” he said.
Commission President Jim Kellogg told the
speakers that he would call for a hearing to reconsider the decision. But he and other commissioners questioned why they had
never previously heard from opponents. Nobody spoke in opposition to the measure during the hearings when the item was being
Tellem said the arguments against the ban that were presented are the same ones she has heard throughout
the years. She said they would still be able to sell the animal food products, they just could not import live, nonnative
ones. Also, she said the “race card” is used too often.
“I'm an animal person,” Tellem
said. “I don't care who is doing it. I don't care if it's a Martian selling them.”
Tellem and her husband,
Marshall Thompson, founded World Turtle Day in 2000 as a day for people to respect turtles and tortoises throughout the world.
The couple has been involved in turtle and tortoise rescue efforts for two decades. They founded American Tortoise Rescue
in 1990 as an operation to rescue turtles and tortoises that were in danger, and to adopt them out to responsible people.
They are no longer involved in the rescue and adoption field, and concentrate their efforts on legislation.
becoming extinct,” said Tellem of turtles and tortoises. “They predated the dinosaurs and they have survived all
these millions of years. And in the past 50 years, we've pretty much decimated their habitat.”
there are several ways people can help to protect turtles and tortoises, with the most important being not to buy them. She
said there are so many rescue groups offering them for adoption that there is no excuse for buying one. There is a list of
rescue places on the American Tortoise Rescue's Web site at www.tortoise.com.
This Thursday's commission hearing
will take place in Sacramento at 9:30 a.m. Public speakers can make comments through teleconference, but they must go to select
locations to do this. The closest one to Malibu is in Ontario at the Department of Fish and Game, Inland Deserts Region. The
address is 3602 Inland Empire Blvd., Suite C-220. As of Tuesday, the Department had not decided if it would Web stream a live
audiocast of the meeting at www.fgc.ca.gov. Contact 916.653.4899 for more information.
Copyright © 2010 - Malibu Times
Note to Reporters:
American Tortoise Rescue has been helping media report correct information
about turtles and tortoises for almost 20 years. Susan Tellem, the founder, is a public relations professional and will
help you get your story done quickly. Email her at email@example.com or call 310-613-3504.
Online Press Kit About ATR
Fact Sheet About ATR
10 Myths About Turtles
Closure of Live Food Markets Due to SARS - Op Ed
Illegal Animal Sales on Santee Street
Where have all the Turtles Gone
Sulcata Tortoises Overwhelm U. S. Rescues - Click to Read More
American Tortoise Rescue Drowning" in Water Turtles
Frequently Dumped Turtle is Red Eared Slider
Malibu, CA - June 1, 2006 -- American Tortoise
Rescue (ATR), Malibu, has more requests to take in water turtles than it can handle. ATR is asking for pond owners who would
love to have some turtles to step forward and offer their ponds to rehome these gentle creatures. Red eared sliders which
have a red stripe next to their eyes, are the most common turtles given up for adoption. The rescues also get soft shells,
pond turtles, cooters and other native and non-native species. Turtles can live comfortably with koi and eat the same food.
Susan Tellem, who founded the nonprofit ATR 20 years ago, says the best situation for sliders
is a private pond, real or artificial. Some people use with plastic horse troughs or plastic swimming pools, but the sides
have to be high enough so that the turtles cannot escape, and they need to be protected from predators like raccoons. Because
turtles can live 25 years or more, adoption is a true commitment. Tellem says, "Many of our sliders have names and are
very personable. It's wonderful to see them basking in the summer sun." During the winter, turtles hibernate under water
for four or five months, some coming out to bask on unseasonably warm days.
homes without small children and dogs," says Tellem. "Children forget to wash their hands and turtles can carry
bacteria. Schools are an absolute no for this reason." Tellem says that dogs think turtles are chew toys, sometimes leading
to painful and debilitating injuries to the turtles.
Tellem says that red eared sliders, the most
common water turtle at the rescue,
usually are dumped by their former owners because they just don't want them anymore,
they rescued from live food markets where they were slated to become the next unhappy meal and or sold at mercados or by roadside
"People get tiny green turtles in a plastic carrying case with an artificial palm
tree at street fairs, pet stores and as prizes at carnivals," said Tellem "Unfortunately, no one tells the potential
owner that these turtles grow to be anywhere from six to 12 inches long and live long lives, instead of staying that cute
little quarter size." Anywhere from 90 - 95 percent die within a year because owners are ill informed by sellers.
Worse, Tellem adds, the people selling or giving these away are breaking a Federal law in place since 1974. The law
was enacted to prevent children from putting turtles in their mouths and exposing themselves to salmonella, which many of
the turtles carry. Since the law was enacted, it is illegal to sell any turtle or tortoise less than four inches in the U.S.,
but it is poorly enforced. Tellem encourages anyone who sees this illegal activity to report it to the police or to animal
To volunteer your private pond as a new home, contact ATR at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Bless Patrick McDonnell and MUTTS for remembering our special friends...