NJ ends terrapin harvest to protect turtle population

 A diamondback terrapin turtle crawls on a table at the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science in Stafford Township, New Jersey. The state has shut down this year's harvest season for the turtles due to their declining numbers. (AP file photo)

A diamondback terrapin turtle crawls on a table at the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science in Stafford Township, New Jersey. The state has shut down this year's harvest season for the turtles due to their declining numbers. (AP file photo)

New Jersey has ended this year’s harvest season for a species of brackish water turtle whose numbers are declining due to overharvesting.

The Environmental Protection Department issued an order Tuesday banning any further harvesting of northern diamondback terrapins. It’s the only species of turtle that lives in the brackish waters of the state’s coastal marshes and estuaries.

The closure order will remain in effect until March 31, the day the harvest season ends. The agency issued a similar order last year.

The state is also studying ways to protect the turtles’ population.

Officials say 3,500 terrapins were taken from two locations in South Jersey in 2014 for an out-of-state aquaculture facility that raises them for overseas markets. Authorities say they also prevented 800 more terrapins from being sent there.

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