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Japan to ban imports of red-eared slider turtles

Japan to ban imports of red-eared slider turtles

The Environment Ministry plans to ban imports of non-native red-eared sliders, a type of turtle popular as pets in Japan, to protect the ecosystem.

The ban probably won’t take effect until 2020 at the earliest, Shigeo Kitamura, the vice environment minister, said Wednesday in Nagoya.

The ministry also plans to introduce other regulations in stages, such as a permission system for raising the species.

Because red-eared sliders can live as long as 40 years, many irresponsible owners abandon them in rivers and ponds after they grow large. These turtles proliferate rapidly, threatening Japanese pond sliders and damaging agricultural crops, ministry officials explained.

The ministry is also mulling launching a model project in fiscal 2016 to study effective ways to get rid of red-eared sliders in the wild.