|A newly hatched bog turtle in northern New Jersey |
Photo Credit: Rosie Walunas, USFWS
Bog turtles were federally listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 1997, primarily due to habitat loss and degradation. At only four inches long, bog turtles, (Glyptemys [Clemmys] muhlenbergii), are the smallest turtles in North America.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began a bog turtle status review in 2011 to determine whether populations have increased, remained stable, or continued to decline.
The Service’s Office of Law Enforcement in New Jersey works in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), the Service’s local Ecological Services Field Office, private landowners, and farmers to protect bog turtles and their habitat.
Turtle collectors covet bog turtles because of their beauty and scarcity. Some may not even know the turtle is federally protected. Service Special Agents monitor Internet trading sites for potential bog turtle sales and known bog turtle sites for signs of poaching. Law Enforcement and biologists work with local farmers to enhance bog turtle habitat and protect existing bog turtle nests. The federal Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program provides money to farmers to undertake wildlife habitat improvements on their farms. This program has been utilized by the Service and farmers in New Jersey to enhance and protect bog turtle habitats.
In addition, the Endangered Species Act provides enforcement for protecting turtles and the means to take action against those who harm them.