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Turtles Faster Than Minister

3 December 2004

Turtles Faster Than Minister

If bets were being taken on whether the red-eared slider turtle could establish itself as another foreign pest before the Minister of Conservation banned sales of it, my money would be on the turtles, says New Zealand First’s conservation spokesman Edwin Perry.

“The Auckland Regional Council’s biosecurity staff caught a turtle several weeks ago west of Auckland at which time I suggested the Minister should immediately ban their sale. Since then the ARC has learnt there are many more living in the wild and posing a threat to native wildlife.

“The Department of Conservation is currently conducting risk assessments for the approximately 19 exotic reptiles and amphibians known to be present in New Zealand, including some in zoos, said Mr Perry.

“However red-eared slider turtles are not in zoos waiting for the outcome of DoC’s deliberations – they are in the wild and, as they are said to be prolific breeders, they are probably busy multiplying.

“Pussyfooting around completing paperwork is no substitute for actually doing something – in this case banning the sale and importation of any more of the turtles and taking steps to find any that are in the wild and breeding.

“If there is one thing we don’t need it is another imported species preying on native plants and birds. The Minister of Conservation has the means to prevent this but seemingly not the will,” said Mr Perry.

ENDS

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