Amid Virus, Florida Wildlife Authorities Issue No-Take Order On Freshwater Turtles
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is prohibiting the take or transport of certain freshwater turtle species.
The executive order is aimed at conserving the turtles as the agency investigates a virus sickening them.
The Turtle Bunyavirus has been detected in Florida softshell turtles, peninsula cooters, Florida red-bellied cooters, yellow-bellied sliders and red-eared sliders.
The sick turtles show signs of lethargy, swollen, closed or sunken eyelids and discolored softshells. The turtles also may have trouble breathing and swim irregularly.
The virus has been detected in Brevard, Collier, Indian River, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Putnam and Seminole counties, although there have been reports throughout the state.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission began investigating the virus in 2018.
Permitted activities may continue, including the purchase and transport of turtles from registered breeders. Floridians also are encouraged to bring sick turtles to rehabilitation facilities.