An issue that makes me think

Reports and discussions on all aspects of tortoise and turtle conservation.

Re: An issue that makes me think

Postby Eversfield » Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:33 pm

Jordi wrote:
Tortoise Trust wrote:2) It does not encourage interest in the conservation of reptiles by banning them. It has the opposite effect


You made me think of a particular species of parrot wich was in danger of extintion somewhere in Central/South America. It wasn´t very beatifull but somehow the managed to make of it a national symbol, so that all the population knew of it and the problems it had. It worked very well. It was not well seen to destroy its habitat or sell it.

Jordi

I had meant to send the attached Article for publication in the Newsletter, but as I wrote it to promote debate on this subject, maybe it is best to post it here:
The Mutant Ninja Curse.
The Slider controversy
( Paul H Eversfield- October 09)

Since the early 1960’s, the North American Slider turtles have been imported into Northern Europe as hatch ling’s from Turtle farms based in the Southern states of the USA. These small coin sized animals bred in their thousands have become a staple of the pet and aquatic trade. Each year, many are sold to the public here in the UK and Europe, where for the most part they are cheap expendable muses who offer a short burst of interest to their new “keeper’s”.
Back in the early 1990’s this trade expanded significantly when a craze for an animated comic strip, became a Television series, then a couple of Films, Teenage mutant Ninja Turtles. The storyline of which mapped out the life of a group of Terrapins which having been dumped by their owners in a city sewer system mutated into avenging “Super heroes”. Suddenly, the hapless baby terrapin gained greater appeal to a largely ignorant pet keeping community. The consequences were potentially catastrophic. Baby terrapins, mostly of the species Red Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) which grow quickly outgrew the aquarium set-ups that were sold as suitable accommodation. Frustrated parents whose children had grown tired of their “Donatello, Raphael, Leonardo & Michelangelo” (Heaven knows what those great European renaissance artists would have thought about their names being given to avenging superheroes?), decided to offload the animals, many unscrupulous individuals simply dumped them in to local ponds, Lakes and Rivers, thus fulfilling the prophecy of the Mutant ninja Turtles who had been dumped in a city Sewer.
Accordingly, across the world and in particular Northern Europe feral populations of these animals became an increasing sight. In most of this range, the animals will not breed as we do not get warm enough or long enough summers. However, in Southern Europe, they have definitely established breeding populations!
What harm? These exotic invaders certainly are capable of disrupting the natural food chain in the river/lake systems; they feed on Molluscs, Crustaceans, plant life, fish eggs and Fish. To counter this problem a number of organizations set up re-homing projects and tried to educate the public, about the huge environmental problems that they were unleashing. These included well meaning projects like the one in Tuscany at Centro CARAPAX. Here, the management thought they could solve much of Northern Europe’s problem, by offering refuge in the Tuscan Countryside, creating scrapes, in their Chelonian sanctuary. Though, this may have started with good intention, and in the telling seemed like a very good idea, the truth was the scale of the problem and their naïve approach to husbandry and Bio security, meant that they were managing a potential ecological catastrophe. How prophetic, the choice of those Ninja Turtle names, all renaissance artists who had themselves plied their trade in the Tuscan Cities of Florence, Siena, and neighboring Rome. Now feral breeding populations of their progeny, are perhaps set to take the place of the native Fauna of the region?
Eventually, Governments in the EU banned the import of this species from its native North America.
Problem solved? No!! In fact all that happened was that other species were substituted, by the breeding farms in the USA, and more recently China, where the species has also been exported in the millions and today, a range of equally unsuitable species are commonly seen in the pet trade. These include two direct cousins of the Red Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), the Yellow bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta) and the Cumberland Slider (Trachemys scripta troosti). These also occur naturally in the south east of the USA. From Virginia to Florida and west across to Alabama. Furthermore, other Sliders and Cooters (colloquial names for Basking Terrapins) of different species are also commonly imported, these include Hieroglyphic cooter (Pseudemys concinna hieroglyphica) Red bellied cooter (Pseudemys nelsoni) and other species from the same group. The problem with these species is the fact that they grow even larger than the Red eared Terrapin and will certainly outgrow most aquarium set-ups in the home!!
Perhaps, a more acceptable species which is frequently imported is the Map turtles Graptemys spp, at least these are more limited by their potential size as adults, although females of this group do still grow quite large.
If terrapins continue, as I suspect to be kept as pets, then a far better understanding of their captive requirement is necessary. This includes all aspects of husbandry throughout their potentially long life span and suitable accommodation to cope with their specific requirements.
Better species selection should also be considered as some of the less frequently seen species are much better suited to the home aquarium set-up. With better understanding, the life of these fascinating creatures can be maintained acceptably in captivity. However, it must be stressed that they are not and never should have been muses for brief periods of interest or as a children’s play thing.
Paul Eversfield
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Re: An issue that makes me think

Postby Jordi » Thu Oct 29, 2009 8:47 pm

As usual, very interesting Paul.
Here they are really a problem. They can an do breed (I saw a pregnant female that was fished accidentally in a lake in Central Catalonia, where the conditions are not as good for turtles and tortoises as they are in lower areas or in southern Spain). The rural agents collect them from rivers and (fortunatelly but sadly) many people give them to Guvernamental organisations. I don´t think those animals have a good end as the quantity of animals exceeds the capacity of these centers.
This not only happens with terrapins. Fish of other countries were introduced for different reasons and now it is impossible to get rid of them. As a result autoctonous fish are declining.
The american river crab was introduced. It has occupied all the rivers and has a fungus that kills the indigenous one that is now in extintion. The tiger mosquito, native from Assia, is now expanding in Spain causing problems to people for the particularly painful sting (we are not adapted to it as people from Assia and the skin reactions are spectacular). Another one that that won´t go away. An Argentine parrot is now living wild in Barcelona and is even compeeting with pigeons.(People were tired of the noise it made :cry:, let it fly through the window and it has become aloctonous) Whenever you talk with an expert in some animal/plant area, the problem with imported animals/plants from other countries appears.
There is people who think it is not a problem, that it is not so important if we have a brown crab or a red one, and that a fish is always a fish.
There is a need of education at all levels regarding animals.
But I don´t think all is lost :|

Jordi
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Re: An issue that makes me think

Postby Eversfield » Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:08 pm

Jordi wrote:As usual, very interesting Paul.
Here they are really a problem. They can an do breed (I saw a pregnant female that was fished accidentally in a lake in Central Catalonia, where the conditions are not as good for turtles and tortoises as they are in lower areas or in southern Spain). The rural agents collect them from rivers and (fortunatelly but sadly) many people give them to Guvernamental organisations. I don´t think those animals have a good end as the quantity of animals exceeds the capacity of these centers.
This not only happens with terrapins. Fish of other countries were introduced for different reasons and now it is impossible to get rid of them. As a result autoctonous fish are declining.
The american river crab was introduced. It has occupied all the rivers and has a fungus that kills the indigenous one that is now in extintion. The tiger mosquito, native from Assia, is now expanding in Spain causing problems to people for the particularly painful sting (we are not adapted to it as people from Assia and the skin reactions are spectacular). Another one that that won´t go away. An Argentine parrot is now living wild in Barcelona and is even compeeting with pigeons.(People were tired of the noise it made :cry:, let it fly through the window and it has become aloctonous) Whenever you talk with an expert in some animal/plant area, the problem with imported animals/plants from other countries appears.
There is people who think it is not a problem, that it is not so important if we have a brown crab or a red one, and that a fish is always a fish.
There is a need of education at all levels regarding animals.
But I don´t think all is lost :|

Jordi

Very true, Here in the UK we have feral populations of numerous species, such as the Grey Squirrel, Muntjac Deer,Ring necked Parakeets, and many more. The Biology of these displaced species of animals and plants is very difficult to predict, and what seemed like a harmless addition to native fauna and flora can quickly become a problem.
This is why, in my opinion, the relocation and concentration of unwanted Slider Terrapins in Southern Europe is potentially Ecological vandalism of the worst kind.
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Re: An issue that makes me think

Postby Tortoise Trust » Fri Oct 30, 2009 10:35 am

The very last thing you should ever do is remove introduced species from an area where they cannot reproduce (e.g. Northern Europe) to an area where they can (Southern Europe).

If you do keep such species in such zone, you MUST have excellent biosecurity. No possibility of escape.

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Re: An issue that makes me think

Postby Jordi » Fri Oct 30, 2009 1:04 pm

Eversfield wrote:This is why, in my opinion, the relocation and concentration of unwanted Slider Terrapins in Southern Europe is potentially Ecological vandalism of the worst kind.


Tortoise Trust wrote:The very last thing you should ever do is remove introduced species from an area where they cannot reproduce (e.g. Northern Europe) to an area where they can (Southern Europe).


I think I missed something. Does it make refference to the post about CAPARAX? I thought those pond´s animals were collected in Italy, do you mean they come from Northern Europe?

Jordi
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Re: An issue that makes me think

Postby Tortoise Trust » Fri Oct 30, 2009 1:30 pm

Jordi,

Yes. Exactly. UK, the Netherlands, Belgium...

"Unwanted pet terrapins are airlifted to Italy by the British Chelonia Group (BCG), which charges owners 25 pounds sterling for this service. They go to live in the Carapax Sanctuary, Tuscany."

!!!

Andy
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Re: An issue that makes me think

Postby Eversfield » Sat Oct 31, 2009 8:41 am

Tortoise Trust wrote:Jordi,

Yes. Exactly. UK, the Netherlands, Belgium...

"Unwanted pet terrapins are airlifted to Italy by the British Chelonia Group (BCG), which charges owners 25 pounds sterling for this service. They go to live in the Carapax Sanctuary, Tuscany."

!!!

Andy

Yes, Jordi,
The British Chelonia Group paid for the Louisiana lake to be scrapped from the Tuscan Soil at CARAPAX, and along with a Dutch Group Stichting Schildpad, have been sending Red eared Terrapins out to Tuscany for a number of years.
Image
Image
It did not look very secure too me :shock:
Paul Eversfield
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Re: An issue that makes me think

Postby Jordi » Sat Oct 31, 2009 11:13 am

A fence like that... for the donkey maybe, but for a slider...
It seems to me that is sending the problem to the "south", with some economic compensation and forgetting it.
Where is the common sense? Wouldn´t it be more useful to use those ponds for native species ?
If the reason for sending them to the south is the welfare of the animals and keeping them in more natural conditions, wouldn´t it be more logical to send the terrapins back to USA? (I don´t mean to reintroduce them).

Jordi
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Re: An issue that makes me think

Postby Eversfield » Sat Oct 31, 2009 1:01 pm

Jordi wrote:A fence like that... for the donkey maybe, but for a slider...
It seems to me that is sending the problem to the "south", with some economic compensation and forgetting it.
Where is the common sense? Wouldn´t it be more useful to use those ponds for native species ?
If the reason for sending them to the south is the welfare of the animals and keeping them in more natural conditions, wouldn´t it be more logical to send the terrapins back to USA? (I don´t mean to reintroduce them).

Jordi

Jordi, You don't just have to worry about the fence, back in 2005, in the original "Florida" Lake they experienced a Flood typical of this area and Climate. It washed untold numbers into the Tuscan countryside, yet still those that should really have known better, went ahead with the Louisiana scrape. Frankly it is a disgrace! :shock:
Image
After all this, they even chose to once again nominate Carapax for yet another Conservation appeal in 2009.
I expect you can imagine a few, better informed members of the BCG are a tad disappointed about these decisions!!
Paul Eversfield
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Re: An issue that makes me think

Postby Jordi » Sat Oct 31, 2009 2:21 pm

I don´t think they can keep all those american turtles in ponds. In Spain I have been told by people that I trust , that the number of terrapins collected from rivers or given by people exceeds the capacity of the existing organisations. Only animals from Spain. And we are talking of animals with a long life expectancy. But this is only what I have only been told, no data. Do you have any idea of the number of animals we are talking about? Are there any statistics?
With other invasive species euthanasia is a normal practice (crabs, fish...). Do you know if this has been done with terrapins? (Don´t forget they are seen as invasive and a danger for indigenous species, the point of view is not the same that the pet keeper has).

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