at Sat Feb 4 16:26:03 2012 [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by MassLawGeek ]
The federal four-inch turtle law was enacted in 1974 due to some outbreaks of salmonella linked to children and purchased baby turtles. This law remains in place today and prevents the retail/business sale of ALL CHELONIANS (with the exception of sea turtles) under four inches in length.
Baby turtles under the four inch limit are frequently seen at reptile expos with disclaimer signs stating that they may only be sold for educational or scientific reasons.
Here's why this kind of sale, by a business (the reptile vendor) at a reptile expo is very dangerous to do: If you, the customer, buy a baby turtle from a vendor who has this disclaimer sign visible and you are challenged by law enforcement on the "scientific or educational use" disclaimer, YOU, the customer must bear the burden of proof at that time that you are in fact using the turtles under this designation. If you cannot, both you and the vendor (the vendor is a business) are in violation of federal law and subject to a $1000.00 fine per instance and/or one year in jail. The phrase "bona fide" is written into the "scientific or educational use" section of the law.
ANY reptile expo that allows sales of baby turtles using this kind of disclaimer sign is asking for federal trouble.
If however, you come to a public meeting of any herpetological society and a turtle hobbyist is selling his hatchling turtles, you may legally buy one to keep as a pet. Limited sales between hobbyists not in connection with a business remain unregulated. If you come to a herp society meeting, you are technically a herp hobbyist or are interested in becoming one. No one goes to herp meetings to discuss knitting.
Online turtle businesses, which I will not name here are currently in violation of the law as it is presently written. They use the disclaimer wording "scientific or educational purposes only" but they themselves are a business that sells turtles even if their customers aren't. The lack of enforcement is due largely to the perceived complexity of the law.
The All Knowing, All Seeing.
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- Federal 4-Inch Turtle Law Clarified Here - MassLawGeek, Sat Feb 4 16:26:03 2012