Minnesota DNR enhances protection for turtles

Two changes that enhance protection for Minnesota’s native turtles will go into effect Jan. 1.




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Painted Turtle, Belwin Conservancy (Greg Seitz/St. Croix 360)

Commercial harvest of western painted turtles and snapping turtles is no longer allowed in Minnesota beginning Jan. 1, the result of a new law enacted in 2023. People will still be allowed to raise turtles for commercial purposes under an aquaculture license with a turtle endorsement.

In addition, also beginning on  Jan. 1, anglers will need both an angling license and a newly required recreational turtle license to harvest turtles using angling gear like hook and line, landing nets and gaff hooks. In the past, only an angling license was required. Traps will not be allowed for turtle harvest. Individuals under 16 do not need a recreational turtle license and may still collect turtles for turtle races.

Minnesota’s native turtles face several threats including habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution and overharvest. Due to the life history characteristics of turtles — that they are long-lived and slow growing — even low levels of increased mortality can result in declining populations, especially in northern latitudes that have short growing seasons. The enhanced protections coming into effect will help ensure the ongoing health of turtle populations in Minnesota.

Recreational turtle licenses are $25 annually and will be available Jan. 1 through the Minnesota DNR electronic license system, and more information is available on the Minnesota DNR website (mndnr.gov/fishing/commercial/turtles.html).


2 responses to “Minnesota DNR enhances protection for turtles”

  1. Troy Avatar

    So unnecessary. Unfortunately, implementing radical and bad policy has become a hallmark of the DNR under the Walz administration. There is no reason to prevent fishermen from harvesting a legal snapping turtle. Nor should we be required to purchase a special license in order to do so. The number of sportsmen that harvest a snapping turtle for food is small, other than myself, I have never met anyone else that does so.

  2. Gordon Maltby Avatar
    Gordon Maltby

    This regulation is far past due. In this state turtles have been trapped for sale as pets and for food (often overseas) in huge numbers with little regard for the effect on their future. Basking traps with dozens of painted turtles inside is a pathetic sight, and you have to ask, “why?” It’s time to stop thinking about our turtles as a throw-away commodity, and appreciate them as a beautiful part of the natural world we all appreciate.



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Minnesota DNR enhances protection for turtles