Is It Legal to Pick Up Turtles off Texas Highways and Byways?
It's summertime and the turtles are looking for a great vacation spot. Anytime those critters are spotted in the middle of the road by my daughter, she'll be picking them up and bringing them home to the tank behind my house. I've always advised her to be cautious when picking up these turtles from the middle of the road, but that got me thinking, is it even legal? Or is she breaking the law?
Texas does not have specific laws regarding retrieving freshwater turtles from the road. After consulting with two of our local game wardens, they both told me the most important point is safety (as suggested in the video below). Wildlife protection laws vary. Some regulations relate directly to the handling and possession of certain types of turtles in Texas, but most of these are aimed at saltwater turtles.
If you find a turtle in the middle of the road, it's advised to safely move the turtle to the side of the road in the direction it was going, to prevent it from being run over. However, it's always a good idea to contact local parks and wildlife officials or conservation organizations to inform them of your turtle handling.
Interestingly, Texas has its own turtle conservation organization known as Texas Turtle Lovers. If you want to capture turtles near or on a public road, TexasTurtleLovers.com recommends obtaining a reptile or amphibian stamp from Texas Parks and Wildlife.
So is my daughter breaking the law? The answer to that is a resounding NO; the turtles were found on the road by our house, heading in the direction of the tank/pond she releases them into. Who would have ever thought one of my daughters would turn into the Turtle Whisperer?