New Jersey lawmakers vote to protect shore turtles

In this Dec. 16

In this Dec. 16

A native New Jersey turtle known for living in salty marshes along the coast and sometimes falling victim to auto traffic during the shore’s busy summer months could soon get legal protection.

The Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a bill that would make it illegal to hunt or harvest diamondback terrapins.

The legislation comes in response to a growing commercial market for terrapin meat, particularly in the Asian food market and after an incident in 2014 that resulted in about 3,500 of the creatures being harvested from southern New Jersey.

Under current law, the terrapins may be harvested in the winter months when they’re hibernating, but the state Department of Environmental Protection ended the season early this year because of concerns over their populations. 

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