Abbotsford council has decided not to restrict the sale of turtles, as proposed by the owner of a local reptile rescue that has been overwhelmed by surrendered red-eared sliders.
Mike Hopcraft, owner of The Reptile Guy’s Rescue and Education Centre, made an appeal to council in May, calling for the city to restrict the sale of turtles under four inches long. He said he hoped that would stop pet stores from buying large numbers of red-eared slider turtles, which eventually grow about a foot long. He said many of the turtles are surrendered to his rescue, or released into Abbotsford’s lakes and ponds, where they are an invasive species that destroy the local ecosystem.
Council received a report on Monday from the manager of bylaw enforcement in response to Hopcraft’s request, stating that the only municipalities in the Lower Mainland that regulate turtle sales are Vancouver, Richmond and Surrey.
Coun. Henry Braun said he did not feel any restrictions would be enforceable, adding that the report states that even after a ban, residents could go to a neighbouring municipality and buy a turtle. The report also states that only one pet store in Abbotsford sells turtles, and they are opposed to potential restrictions due to potential economic hardship.
Coun. Patricia Ross said she was convinced by Hopcraft’s presentation that turtle sales are a local environmental issue, adding that while some other municipalities have an all-out ban, Hopcraft only wanted to increase restrictions locally.