New FWC Diamondback Turtle Conservation Measures in Effect

At its December 2021 meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved regulatory changes that will help conserve diamondback terrapins by preventing them from being taken from the wild.

As of March 1, 2022, all collection and possession of diamondback turtles is prohibited except for scientific research with a valid permit. People who currently own diamondback terrapins as personal pets can legally keep these animals, but must obtain a personal possession permit at no cost by May 31, 2022.

Individuals or institutions that retain diamondback tortoises for the purpose of public display, education, outreach, or other similar conservation programs must obtain a display and education permit free of charge. Permit guidance and application information is available at MyFWC.com/FreshwaterTurtles.

In addition to this new rule, the FWC helps conserve terrapins by requiring all recreational blue crab traps to have rigid funnel openings no larger than 2 inches by 6 inches at the narrowest point, or reduction devices 2 inch by 6 inch accessory sockets installed. This change, which will take effect on March 1, 2023, will reduce the number of turtles accidentally caught in crab pots.

Throughout their range, populations of diamondback terrapins are declining due to habitat loss, unsustainable collection from the wild due to growing popularity in the global pet market, predation and road mortality. Due to the overlapping habitats, there is also a risk of tortoises being accidentally killed in the blue crab traps.

Diamondback terrapins are medium-sized turtles that live in brackish water habitats statewide, including salt marshes, barrier islands, mangroves, tidal creeks, and rivers . They eat a variety of foods including snails, crabs, clams, mussels, worms, fish, and plants. Five of the seven subspecies occur in Florida, three of which are found nowhere else in the world. More information on diamond-backed terrapins can be found at MyFWC.com/Terrapin.

For more information on these Diamondback Turtle rule changes, visit MyFWC.com/FreshwaterTurtles.