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Monday, November 12, 2012

REPOSTED FROM HERP-DIGEST: Petco rebuts PETA claims re turtle rehabilitation

(From the Editor-HerpDigest's policy has always been, that if an error was posted, we are always open to post a rebuttable or letter to the editor. The policy is one rebuttable per original error, and after that case closed, correction, opposing opinion stated, time to move on. Don't kill the messenger. Other issues and news must be covered. -this is also The New York Times policy. So here is the most reasoned and detailed rebuttable I have received concerning the "PETCO Sending Turtles to Turtle Meat Farm Alert." For more information contact PETCO and/or PETA. Our apologies for any inconvenience this might have caused.)

Dear HerpDigest,

Truth is the first casualty... 

I was astonished to read the wildly inaccurate article condemning the Turtle Relinquishment Program established between Petco and the Concordia Turtle Farm.  The source of this misinformation appears to be the PETA website (http://www.peta.org/action/action-alerts/PETCO-Program-Sends-Pet-Turtles-to-Meat-Farm.aspx).  

The purpose of the Relinquishment Program is to give people that have purchased hatchlings from the black market an avenue to dispose of their turtles without releasing them into the wild.  They can do this by just bringing them to the nearest Petco store.

The Concordia Turtle Farm receives the turtles from Petco and then places those turtles in their ponds and either grows them up to the required four inch size before selling them as pets or allows them to grow to maturity to be used as breeding stock.

All of the numbers in the PETA article are wrong.  As an example, there’s nothing like 200,000 adult turtles at Concordia Turtle Farm.  Since Concordia feeds their adult turtles a diet of fresh whole fish and specially designed pellets the food bill for 200,000 adult turtles would probably bankrupt them in a season!

Concordia does not export anything like two million hatchlings a year either.  The turtle farms in the United States have undergone a significant contraction as the Chinese have begun to dominate the industry (see the LEMIS database).  Today there are far fewer farms than there were in the boom years of the early 1990s and total exports are vastly reduced.

Concordia does not export anything but hatchling turtles.  These hatchlings have been produced from treated eggs and are certified salmonella free by the state of Louisiana.  Concordia does not export turtle meat or adult turtles to be slaughtered.  They are not a “meat farm.”

I cannot find anywhere that Petco states they are in "a partnership with the CDC."  Sounds like yet more misinformation from PETA.  The CDC does not partner with private groups but they are obviously supportive of the Relinquishment Program because they have said that “Some pet retailers and pet stores may accept unwanted turtles.” in their Bulletin (http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/small-turtles-03-12/advice-consumers.html).  The CDC is clearly aware that the Relinquishment Program is an excellent avenue to get unwanted black market turtles away from young children.

It’s ludicrous to declare that the Relinquishment Program is “obviously a profitable venture.”  Farms like Concordia are highly efficient and can produce a salmonella free hatchling for less than the cost of the box needed to ship the unwanted turtles from Petco.  Anyone that knows anything about labor and shipping costs could see that there’s lots of money to be lost doing this but the Relinquishment Program is still the right thing to do.

PETA states that “Petco should not be selling them (turtles) to begin with.”  I wonder what special knowledge they have to make this judgement call.  Who are they to say what should be a desired pet?   I know that I got a great deal of joy out of the pet turtles that I had as a boy and would want children today to have the same opportunity if those turtles came from a legitimate turtle farm and not from the wild.

In their pursuit of sensationalism PETA has been negligent in supervising the quality of the information on their web site.  I would suggest they turn their attentions inward and clean up their own act before they attack an American business that is productive and efficient because it is a well run farm that cares for its livestock.

Yours,

Mark Feldman

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