Md. Officials Call for Pet-Only Turtle Derbies

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File photo of a turtle.(Photo credit: NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of a turtle.(Photo credit: NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Natural resources officials are calling for only pet turtles to be used in derbies that are an Independence Day tradition in some Maryland communities.

The Department of Natural Resources says mixing pet and wild turtles can pose health risks to the reptiles and the human participants when wild turtles are used.

Officials say some turtles raced in derbies are collected from the wild and, if diseased, can infect pet turtles or other wild turtles when they are released.

It is illegal in Maryland to release into the wild reptiles or amphibians that have been held in captivity without DNR authorization.

Also, the officials note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently investigating several outbreaks of Salmonella infections in humans associated with exposure to small pet turtles.

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