HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – The Department of Environmental Protection is warning people who buy turtles as pets not to release them into the wild.
Rich Jacobson, director of DEP’s wildlife division, says most turtles sold in pet stores aren’t native to Connecticut and could jeopardize the state’s native turtles if they’re released into the population.
Red-eared sliders, a non-native species that was a popular pet in the 1960s and 1970s, were released into ponds, streams and wetlands after their owners no longer wanted them. Today, they have established populations in Connecticut and are competing with native turtles for food and habitat.
State law currently forbids owners from releasing pet turtles into the wild.
DEP has named 2011 the Year of the Turtle and is working to raise awareness about the creatures.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)