News release: Minnesota DNR enhances protection for turtles

December 18, 2023

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

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.

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