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For Release: Wednesday, September 20, 2017

DEC Eliminating Commercial Harvest of Diamondback Terrapin

Closing Hunting Season Aids Conservation of Diamondback Terrapin Turtle Species

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today that the agency is adopting regulations to eliminate commercial harvest of diamondback terrapins and add the species to the list of native turtles with no open season.

The closure on harvest will go into effect beginning May 1, 2018.

"Diamondback terrapins depend upon a steady diet of mollusks and crustaceans, making them an excellent indicator for the health of New York's estuarine habitats," Commissioner Seggos said. "If diamondback terrapins are doing well in a bay, you know you have a healthy population of blue mussels, clams, and blue crabs, too. Closing the hunting season is an important step in the conservation of diamondback terrapin populations in New York."

Diamondback terrapins are a turtle species that live in brackish waters associated with the lower Hudson River, Long Island Sound, Peconic Bay, and the coastal embayments along the south shore of Long Island. The diamondback terrapin was identified as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in the 2015 New York State Wildlife Action Plan due to documented threats from habitat loss, nest predation, and incidental capture. The turtles are sometimes accidentally trapped in crab pots and other commercial fishing gear.

Populations of diamondback terrapins plummeted in the early 20th Century due to unregulated harvest for turtle soup. After a rebound throughout most of the last century, new declines in diamondback terrapin populations along the Atlantic Coast led to the closure of commercial harvest in all states in the terrapin's range with the exception of New York.

The current action closes commercial harvest of terrapins throughout their range. In addition to closing New York's open season, the diamondback terrapin has been added to the list of native turtles to protect all life stages of the species from being collected from the wild. DEC will continue to evaluate and pursue additional actions to improve the status of the diamondback terrapin populations in New York.

The final diamondback terrapin season will close April 30, 2018, with licenses expiring May 4, 2018.

Information on the life history of the diamondback terrapin may be found by visiting DEC's website.

The Regulatory Impact Statement for the revision to the regulation may be viewed on DEC's and the Notice of Adoption for the revised regulation can be viewed in the New York State Register.

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